The Chancellor of the Exchequer, speaking at the Tory party conference, today rounded angrily on critics who proposed big defence cuts.
At a fringe meeting, backbenchers had suggested that Osbourne, who is seeking to identify £10 billion spending cuts to get government borrowing back on track, could simply cancel the Trident nuclear programme and achieve his aim in one fell swoop.
Osbourne reacted to the proposal by stating ‘I know that if you asked single mothers with large families and young people in rented accommodation which they prefer, they'd choose a robust nuclear deterrent over putting food in their children's mouths and having a roof over their head, any day of the week’.
He added ‘This proposal is naive. Having nuclear weapons gives Britain respect on the global stage and a seat at the UN Security Council. Also, there is the potential for rogue states such as Lichtenstein, Andorra and Luxembourg to gain a nuclear capability, which we need to defend against’.
Rebel conservative MPs had previously stated that owning an atomic capability is a luxury we can’t afford, that other Western European countries manage to survive without investing in a nuclear arsenal and that, if we were between 'a rock and a hard place' we could call on the 'special relationship' enjoyed by successive British prime ministers with the USA, to protect us.
The Prime Minister, David Cameron chose to answer this point by stating 'There are several different meanings attached to the word 'special' in this day and age'. He also
confirmed that Britain would never actually use nuclear weapons and that they were there 'merely as a deterrent'.
He then muttered something about ‘not wanting a repeat of 'hose lesbians at Greenham Common again’ before moving on to salute the Queen in her Jubilee year.