Published: September 22, 2010
Burnham-On-Sea's MP threatens to resign during Trident debate

Burnham-On-Sea's MP this week threatened to resign her role as a parliamentary whip over the replacement of Trident when she spoke at the Liberal Democrats party conference.

Tessa Munt made the comments on Wednesday (September 22nd) when the party's annual conference considered the question of whether to renew the nuclear deterrent in the government's strategic defence and security review.

Tessa said the cost of the nuclear deterrent should be compared with those of housing, education and health.

Speaking during the debate, Tessa said: "I'm a baby whip, but I've made it clear there are some things I fundamentally disagree with. If it comes to it I shall resign the whip, for that is how strongly I feel about Trident."

She added: "We have the opportunity ... to decide what we want to do with the money we have. You're going to have the opportunity to actually persuade our MPs ... That's how coalition works."

The replacement of the nuclear deterrent is a key split within the coalition, with Chancellor George Osborne insisting it be funded by the Ministry of Defence in the face of opposition from Liam Fox, the defence secretary.

The motion passed by the Lib Dem conference in Liverpool called for the Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR) "to allow a full review of the alternatives to 'like-for-like' replacement of Trident", and suggested the SDSR consider cheaper options, such as ending continuous at-sea patrols and extending the life of Vanguard submarines.

It also noted that if the MoD had to fund Trident but find cuts elsewhere, this might mean "severe restrictions in the way Britain operates militarily. Regiments could be axed or the Royal Air Force and Royal Navy amalgamated".

The motion, calling on ministers to extend the SDSR to consider "cost-saving options" and make explicit the cost of Trident replacement, was passed overwhelmingly.


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