Majority of public want to scrap British nukes

By staff writers
July 15, 2009

The results of a newly published poll reveal that most of the British public want an end to the UK's ownership of nuclear weapons. This is thought to be the first time that such a view has attracted majority support.

The survey, conducted by the leading polling company ICM, shows 54 per cent of UK voters want to scrap the UK's nuclear arsenal, compared to 42 per cent in favour of renewing Trident, the government's controversial nuclear weapons system.

The question was asked without any reference to the financial implications of renewing Trident, suggesting that the percentage against Trident may have been higher if the cost of renewing it – estimated at £76 billion – had been pointed out.

“Public opinion has decisively shifted towards opposing the UK's retention of nuclear weapons,” said Kate Hudson of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND), “Now we need politicians to catch up.”

This is thought to be the first major impartial poll showing the majority of the British public to be against the retention of nuclear weapons. When ICM last asked the question, in 2006, they found 51 per cent in favour of renewing Trident.

Hudson suggested that the poll showed that “those offering a defence policy relevant to the real threats of the future and who will redirect the billions planned for Trident into more useful programmes will reap the rewards at the ballot box”.

The government is committed to pushing ahead with the renewal of Trident, a policy supported by the Conservative opposition. The Liberal Democrats have recently come out against Trident renewal, but want a cheaper nuclear weapons system instead. The Green Party, Plaid Cymru and the Scottish National Party all want the UK to scrap its nuclear arms.

The Prime Minister's plans for Trident attracted further controversy recently when he was accused of inconsistency after welcoming the agreement between the US and Russian presidents to make heavy cuts in their nuclear arsenals.

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