In a London debate with former foreign and defence secretrary Sir Malcolm Rifkind, Mr Kent argued that the £100 billion required to renew the Trident submarine nuclear system would better be used on “addressing the real security threats Britain faces such as climate change.”Mr Kent claimed that the possession of nuclear weapons “will increase our military insecurity,” indicating a preparedness to commit “mass murder.”
He told of near misses regarding nuclear accidents, reminding that the Catholic Church has always condemned nuclear weapons. “In November 2006 the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales called for nuclear weapons to be decommissioned” he said.
Mr Kent lamented that “the nuclear powers have no intention whatever of abolishing nuclear weapons, despite their rhetoric”.
Sir Malcolm Rifkind said he would like to see an end to nuclear weapons but he did not favour unilateral nuclear disarmament. “I have no difficulty about seeking disarmament as long as it is multilateral” he said, meaning that all nuclear states should disarm, not just Britain. He felt the threat of nuclear weapons prevented the Cold War becoming a “hot war” and they still act as a deterrence to countries like India and Pakistan which have stepped away from all-out war, “perhaps because both countries have nuclear weapons”.
The event marked the start of the ‘Scrap Trident Tour’ which will see Mr Kent addressing meetings over the next month in various UK cities, including Southampton, Bristol and Preston.