Nigel Griffiths stepped down today as Deputy Leader of the House of Commons in protest at Prime Minister Tony Blair's plans to renew Britain's Trident nuclear deterrent system.
Mr Griffiths said: "I am resigning with a heavy heart but a clear conscience. I intend to make a personal statement in the House of Commons to colleagues and it is only right that they hear the reasons first"
Defence Secretary Des Browne has said maintaining Trident was the "overwhelmingly sensible" decision for MPs to make. The White Paper had set out the nature of the threat that the country is "likely to and probably will" face in coming years. Mr Browne went on to say: "Once you accept that that threat is there, you commit to a deterrent." A vote is to be held on Wednesday, asking MP's whether the Trident nuclear weapons system should be replaced. The Trident system is due to go out of service in 2024 and Ministers are to select a replacement after a three-month consultation. Commons leader Jack Straw said: "We have a responsibility not to cop out of this but to come to a decision, and we shall. "We're talking about defence of the nation here, not the Shops Act or fox hunting." Mr Blair has said that Trident is an essential part of Britain's ability to defend itself. Mr Blair's official spokesman said: "In terms of the overall position on Trident, it is very clear - which is because of the lead-in times involved, it takes 17 years to develop a replacement. That's what means that a decision has to be taken now." With an estimated cost of up to £25bn, anti-nuclear campaigners say the money would be better spent elsewhere.
Q. Should we replace Trident when it goes out of service in 2024?
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