Coalition hesitates over final Trident decision

By staff

Ministers are considering putting off the final decision to commit to a like-for-like replacement of Britain’s nuclear deterrent, according to reports.

It comes amid a tussle between the Treasury and the Ministry of Defence (MoD) over who should pay for Trident.

The four nuclear submarines which deliver Britain’s warheads must be replaced by 2030, leaving the final ‘main gate’ decision expected for 2014.

That may now be put back until after the next general election, set for May 2015, according to reports.

Officials within the MoD would be spared having to wrestle with the huge additional spending burden Trident would impose on their defence budgets, as work on the strategic defence and security review (SDSR) continues alongside the Treasury-led comprehensive spending review.

Chancellor George Osborne has refused to permit spending on Trident to be drawn from Treasury coffers, against MoD wishes.

Conservative MP Bernard Jenkin, chair of the public administration select committee, suggested on the Today programme the latest development could be an MoD ploy to put pressure on No 11.

Publicly the MoD is insisting no decisions have been taken, however.

“The government remains committed to maintaining the UK’s minimum and credible submarine-based nuclear deterrent, based on the Trident missile system,” a spokesperson said.

“Within the framework of the SDSR, a review is ongoing to ensure that the renewal of the deterrent provides value for money.”