Guardian News and Media/London
Labour has moved hastily to shut down speculation that it could withdraw support for Britain’s nuclear deterrent, after Jeremy Corbyn appeared to leave open the idea that renewing Trident could be left out of the party’s manifesto.
Labour issued a statement yesterday saying: “The decision to renew Trident has been taken and Labour supports that. We also want Britain to do much more to pursue a proactive, multilateral disarmament strategy.”
It came three hours after the party’s leader had appeared to cast doubt on a future Labour government’s support for the nuclear deterrent system, and suggested he would think twice about backing a strike to kill the leader of Islamic State.
In an interview on the BBC1’s the Andrew Marr Show, Corbyn, who has been a longstanding campaigner against nuclear proliferation, said he did not believe it necessarily made the UK safer.
“I want us to achieve a nuclear-free world, to adhere to the nuclear non-proliferation treaty and take part in negotiations surrounding that,” he said, stressing an immediate need to take part in talks de-escalate nuclear tensions involving North Korea.
“The issue has to be that we want a secure and peaceful world,” Corbyn said. “You achieve that by promoting peace and also promoting security. Security comes from that process.”
It was the second time since Theresa May announced the snap general election last week that Labour has had to clarify statements made by the leader.
At Corbyn’s campaign launch event on Thursday, both he and the shadow chancellor, John McDonnell, appeared to refuse to rule out backing a referendum on the final Brexit deal. But the party later issued a statement saying a second referendum would not be in the manifesto.
Some Labour MPs who are facing a threat from the Liberal Democrats in heavily pro-remain seats would have liked to see a second referendum in the manifesto; but in Leave seats, Labour fears it may be vulnerable to the charge of seeking to block Brexit.
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