Labour are demanding a “full explanation” of why Theresa May four times dodged the question of whether or not she knew about a calamitous failure on a Trident missile test last summer, just months before the House of Commons met to debate the controversial programme’s renewal. Andrew Marr asked Theresa May, “did you know the misfire of the missile had occurred when you made your first speech about Trident to Parliament in July 2016?”
HMS Vengeance, one of the UK’s four Trident submarines, which each carry up to forty-eight nuclear warheads, was running a test off the coast of Florida in December 2015 when it fired an unarmed missile at a sea target off the coast of West Africa, some 9,000km away. Instead of flying towards its intended target, the missile flew towards the US coast, the BBC reports.
Jeremy Corbyn said that, “It’s a pretty catastrophic error when a missile goes in the wrong direction.” He has called for Theresa May to give a full explanation to MPs. It is expected that either her or Sir Michael Fallon MP, the Defence Secretary, will be made to do so by the House in the coming days.
Aside from the worry of an unarmed nuclear missile potentially firing in the wrong direction, what elevates this matter is the fact Theresa May could have known about this and chosen to bury the report from MPs ahead of the vote last summer on Trident renewal, which the government won by 472 votes to 117.
CND’s Kate Hudson has said:
This is a very serious failure of the Trident system and there’s absolutely no doubt this would have impacted on the debate in Parliament on Trident replacement. The government’s motivation for holding back this vital information is therefore clear.
Instead of crucial information being given by the government at the appropriate time to inform the MP’s debate, it’s been revealed by a senior naval figure months after it took place.
The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament are calling for a public inquiry, and are asking supporters to write to their MPs to support this demand.