Blair faces backbench revolt over Trident decision

Last updated at 11:22 01 March 2007

Tony Blair faces a revolt by Labour MPs over replacing the Trident nuclear deterrent because they feel they are being forced into making a quick decision.

The rebellion means the Prime Minister may have to rely on the Conservatives to get parliamentary approval for a new generation of nuclear weapons as the Liberal Democrats are threatening to oppose the proposals.

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Dagenham MP Jon Cruddas, who is battling to become Labour's deputy leader, is leading the calls for a "mature debate" on whether spending about £20 billion on nuclear weapons would be a good use of taxpayers' money.

More than 140 MPs, including 78 Labour backbenchers, have signed a Commons motion branding a three-month consultation period on the future of the nuclear deterrent "insufficient".

The row also has strong echoes of the embarrassment suffered by ministers last month when the High Court handed Greenpeace a significant victory by ruling that the Government's public consultation on a new generation of nuclear power stations had been "seriously flawed".

Mr Cruddas stressed he was not against Britain having a nuclear deterrent in principle, but questioned whether it was now the best use of public funds in a changing world.

MPs are expected to vote on the nuclear deterrent in mid-March after a one-day debate. However, Mr Cruddas said it was likely that an amendment would be tabled in the Commons demanding more time to debate the move.

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