Brendan O’Hara MP & The Trident Debate


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Bernard Jenkin Chair, Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee

It is an honour to follow Vernon Coaker, who has made not only a passionate speech, but an extremely well informed and able speech that puts very well the case for maintaining our independent nuclear deterrent. It is striking that my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister should choose this debate as the first occasion on which to appear at the Dispatch Box as Prime Minister to reinforce her personal will and determination to stand up for this country, to stand up for global peace and security and to demonstrate her personal resolve to project the values that our country represents around the world.

It is also striking that her very first act as Prime Minister was to pay respect to Scotland and the Scottish Executive by visiting the First Minister at the end of last week. If I may, I would like to address the Scottish dimension to the debate. The SNP is clearly represented in this House by many sincere unilateralists. No one need doubt their sincerity, but I very much doubt whether their views are as representative of Scottish opinion as they claim.

A recent poll showed a majority in Scotland in favour of maintaining the nuclear deterrent. [Interruption.] SNP Members shake their heads, and they are entitled to do so—I would expect them to—but I put it to them that there are many reasons why the SNP is ascendant in Scottish politics, and I do not think that their defence policy is one of them. I think they would still be doing well in Scotland if they were in favour of maintaining the Trident nuclear deterrent. I do not think that the case of Trident renewal was uppermost in voters’ minds in Scotland at the time of the last general election or the Scottish election.

Brendan O’Hara Shadow SNP Westminster Group Leader (Defence)

Perhaps, given his in-depth knowledge of Scottish politics, the hon. Gentleman can explain my presence in the Chamber today as the Member of Parliament for Argyll and Bute, a constituency that includes both Faslane and Coulport. Perhaps he can explain why the people of Faslane, Coulport and the rest of Argyll and Bute chose me when I stood explicitly on an anti-Trident ticket, if it is such a terrible and divisive vote-loser.

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