Jeremy Corbyn bids to win Labour support for call to end Trident


Jeremy Corbyn has called for an end to the UK's "weapons of mass destruction" as the Labour Party conference prepared to vote on the future of the nuclear deterrent.

The Labour leader acknowledged he may be unable to persuade members of his shadow cabinet to oppose the renewal of the Trident weapons system and there may be a "difference of opinion" when the parliamentary vote takes place.

The future of Trident is just one area where Mr Corbyn has different views to his colleagues in the Commons, but sweeping changes to the way Labour policy is formed could see the grassroots members who overwhelmingly backed his leadership bid given a greater influence.

The difficulties faced by Mr Corbyn in uniting his shadow cabinet behind him have been highlighted by the debate on the nuclear deterrent.

Shadow foreign secretary Hilary Benn and shadow justice secretary Lord Falconer have both spoken out against abandoning the UK's nuclear capability, and Mr Corbyn said "we are going to come to an accommodation of some sort".

Hinting that the Labour vote might not be whipped when Parliament decides, he told BBC One's Andrew Marr Show: "We are going to have to discuss it and debate it and come to a philosophical solution to it. But I understand colleagues' views.

"I hope to persuade them that a nuclear free world is a good thing, that fulfilling our obligations under the nuclear non-proliferation treaty and promoting a nuclear weapons convention is a good thing. They are all signed up to multilateral disarmament, by the way.

"There are many people, military thinkers, who are very concerned, indeed opposed, to Trident because they don't see it as part of modern security or defence. They don't see any situation in which Trident would become an option you would think about using.

"This is a weapon of mass destruction."

Mr Corbyn suggested it would not be "a disaster" if there were two different opinions within the party, but added: "I will do my persuasive best to bring them around to my view."

With conference set to vote on Trident during the gathering in Brighton, probably on Wednesday, Mr Corbyn said he expects the motion finally put to delegates would involve a "series of alternatives" rather than a straight choice on scrapping nuclear weapons.

In moves which could in future put his supporters more firmly in charge of policy-making, Mr Corbyn detailed plans to open up the process to thousands of new members, many of whom backed the radical left-wing platform on which he stood in the leadership election.

He said: "There's a whole lot of talent out there. I'm not sure that the political classes... fully appreciate the disillusionment of so many people with traditional politics and their love and desire to be involved and have their voice heard. That's what I want to unlock."

Launching the review, Angela Eagle, who chairs Labour's national policy forum (NPF), told the conference: "The old way of doing politics has alienated the public from the political system and we need reform and a new kind of politics that involves and engages people more directly.

"We need to reform the NPF so that in the coming years it empowers everyone to play a full and active role.

"This will include looking at how we harness the opportunities new technology brings us to give our members a much greater say."

The Tories seized on Mr Corbyn's remarks about Trident to repeat their claim that Labour poses a threat to national security.

Business Secretary Sajid Javid said: "The Labour leader confirmed that he would weaken our defences by scrapping our independent nuclear deterrent and that he would damage our economy by putting up taxes on jobs, earnings, investment and people's homes.

"This shows the Labour Party are a serious risk to our national security, our economic security and to the security of all working people."