By Jennifer Quinn, Associated Press | March 15, 2007
LONDON -- Prime Minister Tony Blair survived a rebellion by 95 lawmakers in his party yesterday when Parliament approved his program to replace Britain's fleet of four nuclear-armed submarines.
Overwhelming support from Conservatives assured approval of Blair's plan , with the motion passing by a vote of 409 to 161. His Labor Party has a majority of 67 seats in the House of Commons.
Critics said the $40 billion program could harm efforts to stem the weapons ambitions of Iran and other countries. But before the vote, Blair told the House of Commons that the submarines -- due to be phased out starting in 2022 -- should be replaced to meet possible future threats from rogue regimes and state- sponsored terrorists.
"I think it's right we take the decision now to begin work on replacing the Trident submarines. I think it's essential for security in an uncertain world," Blair said. "Though it is impossible to predict the future, the one thing that is certain is the unpredictability of it."
The opposition Conservative Party supported the government. Former leader William Hague said that not renewing nuclear defenses would force Britain to depend on France and the United States.
"As far as we can see into the future nuclear weapons will remain part . . . of the global security setting. They will not be disinvented," he said. "This country has set a good example in the reduction of its nuclear arsenal. But we should not think for a moment that if we were to divest ourselves altogether of that arsenal, other nations would be likely to follow suit."
Lawmakers Stephen Pound and Chris Ruane announced their resignations from junior government jobs -- becoming the third and fourth members of Blair's government to quit over the proposal. The Labo r Party abandoned its long-held policy of unilateral nuclear disarmament in the late 1980s, but significant numbers of party members continue to press for Britain to scrap its nuclear arsenal.
Wonder if we are going to invade GB now? I think not, isn't it funny how some countries feel exempt from silly rules like the Nuclear Non-proliferation treaty...