The Conservatives are claiming that Labour would trade plans to build four Vanguard-class submarines to carry Britain’s Trident nuclear missiles for a deal with the SNP to put it into government.
There’s only one problem with this strategy — Nicola Sturgeon already said that scrapping Trident is not a condition for a vote-by-vote deal.
In an interview with Sky News on Thursday the SNP leader said “any confidence-and-supply arrangement would require the non-renewal of Trident”, comments that were seized upon as proof that any deal would require negotiations over Britain’s nuclear deterrent.
Yet when asked about it directly by The Guardian last month Sturgeon she refused to rule out a vote-by-vote deal even with Trident on the table. She said:
“We’re unlikely to go into a formal coalition with Labour. It’s more likely to be an arrangement where we would support Labour on an issue by issue basis. Under that arrangement there would be many things that we could agree on and that we would support, but we would not vote for Trident.”
She was absolutely clear that while the SNP would not under any circumstances vote for Trident and couldn’t agree to a formal confidence-and-supply arrangement with it included, the party would still be comfortable doing a deal with Labour that would allow Ed Miliband to push it forward providing he could get the votes from elsewhere.
Since the Times article, in which the claims were first made by defence secretary Michael Fallon, came out this morning the line has shifted to the number of submarines that Labour would build (will it be three or four?).
Yet, if Sturgeon is true to her word, the only way that the Trident programme as a whole would be under threat under a Labour/SNP deal is if the Conservatives themselves vote against it.
Here’s the clip in full:
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