A group of U.K. hardliners intends to push the coalition government to make a "final gate" decision on moving forward with the replacement of the nation’s Trident missile SSBN fleet prior to the 2015 general elections instead of afterward, as is currently the plan, the Scotsman newspaper reported.
The publication last week of a long-awaited, Liberal Democrat-driven government study into possible alternatives for the U.K. "like-for-like" plan for modernizing the Vanguard-class ballistic missile submarines found credible alternatives for maintaining a nuclear deterrent. However, none would also result in substantial savings, the review said.
The report’s findings encouraged a group of Conservative Parliament members to attempt to convince fellow party leaders and the prime minister, David Cameron, to hasten the government’s decision on whether to ink a defense contract to acquire four new Vanguard vessels. The group fears that if the scheduled 2015 general elections result in another governing coalition, the more left-leaning Liberal Democrats might condition their participation in a future government on an agreement to ax the Trident replacement plan.
“It is imperative that we sign the contract before the next election because if we end up with another hung parliament, the Lib Dems will blackmail either my party or Labor into dropping the replacement of Trident,” Conservative lawmaker Julian Lewis said.
“The only reason why the decision was delayed was so the Lib Dems could have their review. Now we have had it, there is no reason to delay further,” he said.