Jeremy Corbyn has signalled his determination to keep fighting against the renewal of Trident by becoming a vice-president of CND. The Labour leader is facing a major split in his party over whether Britain’s nuclear deterrent should be replaced, with a crunch House of Commons vote due in the coming months. James Tapsfield
Corbyn was rebuked by party colleagues last month for undermining the internal debate after bluntly stating that there were no circumstances under which he would authorise use of the nuclear weapons.
The veteran left-winger has been vice-chairman of CND, which campaigns for unilateral disarmament by the UK, for many years.
He had been due to address the organisation’s conference in London this weekend, but he is now said to have other engagements.
CND said that while Corbyn was stepping down as vice-chairman in recognition of his increased workload, he would take on the role of vice-¬president instead.
“He didn’t want to resign from CND, so he decided to ¬accept a vice-president role,” a spokesman said.
CND general secretary Kate Hudson said: “This is a fitting tribute to a very principled man with a life-long commitment to CND and the cause of nuclear disarmament“Working together, with enormous support from across society, we will prevail against Trident and secure a crucial step towards global disarmament.”
Russell Whiting, from CND, said Corbyn “stood on a clear anti-Trident platform” when he was elected as Labour leader “with a massive mandate”.
“He’s challenging the consensus that has developed at Westminster around Trident, and that’s something we’re looking forward to taking forward with him.”
Corbyn joined the organisation as a teenager in 1966 and has long campaigned against the replacement of Trident.
But many Labour MPs, including the party’s new shadow defence secretary Maria Eagle, have openly disagreed with the party leader’s views on nuclear weapons.
In Scotland, the SNP has declared its intention to remove Trident from its base at Faslane, on the Clyde.
Earlier this month, on a visit to Scotland, Corbyn said that Labour could go into next year’s Holyrood election without the party having a clear position on Trident.
The Labour leader said at the time he hoped the position would have been resolved by then, but that he could give no guarantee.
The SNP had earlier challenged Corbyn to end what it termed “the chaos and confusion” over Labour’s policy on replacing the Trident nuclear weapons system.
SNP deputy leader Stewart Hosie said at the time: “Labour’s position on Trident has become utterly indefensible.
“After days of chaos and infighting, Jeremy Corbyn must make clear whether he is leading Labour – or whether Labour is leading him.
“Jeremy Corbyn needs to be straight with the people of Scotland – will Labour oppose Trident nuclear weapons on our shores, or simply allow the Tories to go ahead with this outdated and unwanted project?”
While Corbyn remains opposed to nuclear weapons, his party is committed to Trident’s renewal.
Currently, the government spend about 6 per cent of its annual defence budget on Trident, according to Ministry of Defence figures.
Trident was acquired by Margaret Thatcher’s government in the early 1980s as a replacement for the Polaris missile system which the UK had kept since the 1960s Cold War era.
Trident is reported to have a potential destructive power eight times that of the first atomic bomb, which is ¬estimated to have killed 140,000 people when it was dropped by the United States on Hiroshima in Japan on 6 August, 1945.
Yesterday a CND spokesman said that while Corbyn will not be giving a speech today as had originally been planned, he will be addressing activists at a private session.
Jeremy Corbyn has signalled his determination to keep fighting against the renewal of Trident by becoming a vice-president of CND.
The Labour leader is facing a major split in his party over whether Britain’s nuclear deterrent should be replaced, with a crunch House of Commons vote due in the coming months.