The government's plans to renew the Trident nuclear weapons system have taken another blow with a poll revealing strong public opposition to the plan. At at time of recession, the poll suggests that a majority of voters would rather scrap Trident than cut spending on health or education.
Only 35 per cent of voters are in favour of renewing Trident, compared to 58 per cent against, according to a Com Res poll published in the Independent.
The news comes amidst rumours that Gordon Brown is facing private pressure from ministers with reservations about Trident renewal at a time of economic recession.
The majority of voters questioned for the poll made clear that they would rather that public spending cuts affected nuclear weapons than health or education. Eighty four per cent thought that education spending should rise in real terms each year, despite the economic situation. Eighty two per cent thought the same about the National Health Service.
The news was welcomed by the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND), which estimates the cost of Trident replacement at £76 billion.
Meanwhile, a cross-party group of senior politicians have announced the formation of a new group to promote “multilateral nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation”.
The group includes former Labour ministers Des Browne, Margaret Beckett, John Reid and George Robertson; senior Tories Malcolm Rifkind and Michael Ancram and Liberal Democrat Shirley Williams Three former chiefs of the “defence staff” - Charles Guthrie, Michael Boyce and Peter Inge - will also join the group.
Despite the pro-war and military backgrounds of several members of the group, its formation was welcomed by CND.
“The cross-party nature of this group shows how nuclear disarmament is taken increasingly seriously across the political spectrum” said CND's chair Kate Hudson, “It is now vital that the leaders of the parties represented in this group also fully support its goals."