LONDON — Britain’s Conservative Party will commit to building four Trident missile-armed submarines to replace the Vanguard-class boats currently providing the UK’s nuclear deterrence.
Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said the pledge to build four submarines will be included in the Tories’ manifesto due to be released soon, ahead of the May 7 general election.
The Labour Party, the only other party large enough to form a government here, supports the renewal of the nuclear deterrent, known as the Successor program, but has not firmly committed to whether the new fleet would involve three or four boats.
In an article in The Times, Fallon mainly launched a personal attack on Labour Party leader Ed Miliband, but the article did for the first time contain a firm commitment by the Tories to a one-for-one replacement of the Vanguard fleet to guarantee continuous at-sea deterrence.
Fallon said Miliband would be “willing to stab the UK in the back” by doing a deal with the Scottish National Party (SNP) on Trident to gain power just as he had “stabbed his own brother in the back” to secure the Labour Party nomination as leader.
With a coalition or minority government expected to result from the election, the increasingly popular SNP has emerged as a potentially key player if Labour beats the Tories to form the next government.