David Cameron used his first four questions to make the case for, and urge Blair to make the case for, Trident. Blair agreed with his statement that "in a dangerous and uncertain world, unilateral nuclear disarmament has never been the answer". Cameron’s line of questioning had echoes of the education reforms,
with Cameron making much of the fact that the vote would go through due
to Conservative votes – so Blair didn’t have to appease Labour rebels.
He asked Blair specifically to reiterate that the replacement proposals wouldn’t breach non-proliferation treaty obligations as the number of missiles was going to be reduced (as it did with previous Labour and Conservative governments), that replacing Trident was in the national interest, and that tonight’s vote would be the final vote.
As usual, there was a big cheer for Ming Campbell and a lot of chatter whilst he was talking. He said that our nuclear threat comes from other countries getting weapons, and asked what role the government would take in a 2010 conference on nuclear weapons. He said Blair should commit to reducing the number of missiles now to put the government in a stronger position for said conference. Blair said there were already commitments of that nature, and came back with a good line after Ming had used his two questions. He recalled Ming saying a few days ago that he would not sit on the fence – great laughter in the House – and asserted that that is precisely what he was doing on the Trident issue.
Julian Lewis, the Shadow Defence Secretary, made the case for Trident on ToryDiary yesterday.
Cameron had quite a technical debate with Blair during his last couple of questions, regarding the nature of the military facilities at Birmingham’s Sellyoak hospital. Cameron was calling for a dedicated military facility where wounded soldiers are surrounded by their comrades, rather than merely a military managed facility. Blair said the previous Conservative government had rightly phased out military hospitals.