In the last 48 hours it’s emerged that Theresa May has continued the Conservative party tradition of cover-up and lying in relation to nuclear weapons.
Following her refusal to answer a direct question four times in a row from Andrew Marr on Sunday, the office of the Prime Minister has finally admitted that she was informed about a failed Trident missile test at the centre of cover-up allegations, prior to addressing MPs on the matter.
The £205 billion Trident missile system, which the government voted in favour of upgrading in July 2016, suffered a fault during testing with a missile veering off course.
In June last year, the Royal Navy test-fired an unarmed Trident II D5 ballistic missile. The weapon is 13 metres long, weighs 60 tonnes and can carry nuclear warheads with up to eight times the destructive capacity of the bombs that hit Hiroshima and Nagasaki in the second world war. Each missile costs £17 million. The navy likes to boast about the missile’s accuracy: it can supposedly hit a target 4,000 nautical miles away and be accurate to within a few metres.
The problem is that when HMS Vengeance, one of Britain’s four nuclear submarines, test-fired the missile off the coast of Florida, the missile was not out by a few metres but several thousand miles. It had been targeted at the southern Atlantic off the coast of west Africa. Instead, it was heading in the opposite direction, over the US. The Tories have been at pains to state that it will be a British system despite the weapons not being owned by the government but instead ‘leased’ from the US. Now it seems the leaseholders have a better insight into it’s track record, as the US were well aware of the incident before this crucial information was revealed in the UK, not by the government but by a senior naval figure.
Theresa May was briefed about the test but did not inform MPs during the debate about spending £205 billion of public money of the weapons system.
This is business as usual from the finance-obsessed Tories. While the NHS, housing and social care continue to struggle under austerity measures, politicians across Parliament prefer to throw good money after bad to maintain an outdated pretence that possessing weapons of mass destruction is essential to be seen as a genuine leading world power.
Since the 1980s The Tories have been repeating their tired claim that “we are for disarmament — multilateral disarmament whenever they come to con a few voters at election time. But in reality their focus is on the business of war, for example filling their coffers with weapons sales to Saudi Arabia, bringing in £3 billion a year. When they had the opportunity to pursue their “manifesto policy,” when the UN General Assembly voted to start negotiations on a global nuclear weapons ban treaty in 2016, they actually voted against it.
It is easy for nuclear weapons to become part of the bigger agenda and lost as a single issue, but the lack of concerted pressure to rid us of these weapons becomes crystal clear as the world rocks from the supposed stability of neoliberalism to a “post-truth” arms race. The government should be called out for their lies and shamed for the millions they are willing to waste on weapons whilst people die in hospital corridors, wait at food banks and sleep in the streets.