Nicola Sturgeon will press Jeremy Corbyn to scrap the UK’s nuclear deterrent in any talks on Scottish National party support for a minority Labour government.
The SNP leader said abandoning Trident would a key issue in any post-election talks with Labour, alongside supporting a second independence referendum, abolishing the universal credit benefits system and devolving immigration policy to Holyrood.
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In an article for the Guardian Sturgeon attacked Corbyn for abandoning his longstanding opposition to nuclear weapons in favour of supporting Trident and its replacement by a new system, based at Faslane submarine base on the Clyde.
“Like many other Scots, I’ve always been appalled that Britain’s nuclear arsenal has been kept in my back yard,” Sturgeon wrote.
“Corbyn, a longtime supporter of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, is now fully signed up to renewing Trident. While I have my differences with Jeremy, on this issue – in his heart of hearts – I believe he still feels the same as I do. Yet, in attempting to become prime minister, he feels the need to sell out his principled opposition to Trident and promise to keep them on the Clyde.”
Sturgeon was asked on Sky’s Sophy Ridge on Sunday whether scrapping Trident would be another red line for the SNP in its talks on supporting a minority Labour administration.
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She indicated it would be, but did not say SNP support would be conditional on Labour reversing its policy on Trident. “I have been campaigning against Trident for the whole of my life so, yes, that is absolutely a key position that the SNP would have in any discussions about supporting a minority Labour government,” she said.
Corbyn and Jo Swinson, the Liberal Democrat leader, have both been asked during the election campaign whether they would use nuclear weapons. Corbyn refused to say; Swinson quickly said yes. Corbyn has also repeatedly insisted Labour will not negotiate with other parties to ensure it can govern.
Sturgeon said it was illogical for Labour to argue simultaneously that it would press for the UK’s arsenal to be included in multilateral disarmament talks yet agree to renew Trident.
“We don’t make the world safer by making it more dangerous first,” she said in her Guardian article. Instead, the UK “should lead the way by scrapping nuclear weapons and investing that money in our communities and our public services”.
The SNP made removal of Trident from Faslane a totemic issue in the 2014 independence referendum campaign. Sturgeon’s critics say that stance is undermined by an SNP commitment to join Nato if Scotland becomes independent, since the defence alliance is committed to nuclear weapons and has a first-strike policy.
The SNP adopted a pro-Nato stance in the run-up to the referendum, causing deep divisions in the party. Two of its MSPs resigned and aligned themselves with the Scottish Greens at Holyrood.
George Kerevan, a former SNP MP, said last month that the party had to abandon its support for Nato. It meant an independent Scotland would allow nuclear-armed US warships into its waters and commit Scotland to supporting all Nato operations. “It is time to reopen the issue of Scotland’s membership of Nato,” Kerevan wrote in the National newspaper.