Gordon Brown is considering ditching the new Trident nuclear deterrent to save money according to the Scottish edition of the Daily Mail. As ministers search for cuts in public services to plug soaring debts, the £20 billion replacements for the current nuclear arsenal could be scaled back, or the existing warheads made to last much longer.
The plans, which are being discussed by Cabinet ministers, emerged as the chancellor was accused of a cynical manoevre to hoodwink the public about how much money Labour will have to slash from front line services.
Ed Balls admitted yesterday that tough choices would be necessary and said, "I think if we are deft and we can get the economy right we can keep investing in schools, hospitals and our police at the front line." But in private ministers acknowledge that severe cuts will be necessary. 'Big Ticket' defence projects will be first in line.
Now MoD officials are actively considering a cheaper nuclear arsenal, which could see the UK reliant on missiles based in Britain or arming aircraft with nuclear bombs instead. Another proposal would see the lifespan of the current missiles extended to 2060.
An MoD source said, "All spending will be reviewed next year and that includes Trident." May I remind them to include safe equipment for the military. It is a disgrace that soldiers are being put at serious risk while politicians play games about who can lie the most.
Ah! So another urgent matter is to be delayed until after the general election. Of course it is part of the Comprehensive Spending Review which Alistair Darling kicked into the long grass last week. This Westminster government has no shame.