According to this morning’s Independent, Tony Blair will have to rely upon Tory votes to secure parliamentary support for his plans to replace Trident. A poll by Communicate Research for the newspaper found that 36% of Labour MPs believed that "the international security outlook makes a UK nuclear deterrent unnecessary." The Independent has also been analysing recent parliamentary motions:
"63 Labour MPs have signed parliamentary motions calling on the Government not to replace Trident, and many more have signed motions calling for a full debate about Britain’s nuclear deterrent before the vote. Fifty-three Labour backbenchers signed a motion in February warning that replacing Trident would breach the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, while 55 signed another motion last year calling on ministers to "abandon" any plan to replace the missile system."
Trident will be another important test of David Cameron’s willingness to act in bipartisan ways in the national interest. In the last year he delivered passage of Tony Blair’s education reforms after large-scale opposition from Labour MPs had promised to derail them. Tory strategy director Steve Hilton is reported to be cautious about the issue, however. He vetoed a speech by Liam Fox on the subject after a focus group test found that voters were reminded of the Thatcher era. Dr Fox is a supporter of replacing Trident but the last Conservative Defence Secretary, Michael Portillo, is opposed.
Related link: It’s time to put Missile Defence back on the agenda