A Trident missile armed Vanguard class ballistic missile submarine leaving its base in the Firth of Clyde

Trident renewal programme 'too expensive'

The Scottish National Party (SNP) has attacked the projected overall cost of replacing and maintaining Britain's nuclear deterrent, which is estimated to reach £167bn.

The Party, which wants to scrap the UK’s nuclear-armed Trident submarines, called the sum 'unthinkable and indefensible' at a time when deep cuts under the government's austerity policies mean ‘thousands of people across the UK are struggling to afford basics like food’.

The UK government has previously pegged the cost of replacing its fleet of four nuclear submarines at £15bn to £20bn, although it has not given any indication of maintenance costs.

However, this estimate appears to have been revised, with defence procurement minister Philip Dunne telling parliament that replacing the submarines would cost £25bn.

Dunne’s estimates came in response to Crispin Blunt, chair of the Commons foreign affairs committee, who has expressed scepticism about the programme.

"My office's calculation based on an in-service date of 2028 and a missile extension until 2060 ... the total cost is £167bn," he said.

"The successor Trident programme is going to consume more than double the proportion of the defence budget of its predecessor ... The price required, both from the UK taxpayer and our conventional forces, is now too high to be rational or sensible."

Some military officials have also opposed investment in Trident, saying the money would be better spent on maintaining the army and on more conventional technology, which have also faced cuts.

Stewart Hosie, deputy leader of the SNP, said the new figure showed "just how dangerous the Tories' obsession with nuclear really is.

"This is truly an unthinkable and indefensible sum of money to spend on the renewal of an unwanted and unusable nuclear weapons system".

On Wednesday, prime minister David Cameron told parliament: "I think it is right to maintain our independent nuclear deterrent and anyone who has any doubts of it only has to look at the dangers and uncertainty in our world."

In a speech last week, Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said global threats meant renewing Trident was vital.

"I appeal to all moderate MPs, to put our national security first and to support building four new Trident submarines," he said. "Spread across the 30-year life of the new boats, this represents an annual insurance premium of around 0.13 percent of total government spending."

Current Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has said he would not fire nuclear weapons if he were prime minister.

In the run up to his appointment, he said that 19,000 Scottish workers at the Faslane nuclear submarine base would be retrained if he were to scrap Trident.

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