Labour will vote to back the renewal of the UK's nuclear deterrent Trident and the country's membership of Nato, despite Jeremy Corbyn's previous soundings on the issues, according to Hilary Benn. The newly reappointed shadow foreign secretary said he was confident his party would vote to support the two policies at Labour's annual conference in Brighton between 27-30 September.
"My view is that we need to maintain an independent nuclear deterrent. I share with Jeremy the wish to see a world which is free of nuclear weapons, but I don't believe for one second that if Britain were to give up its deterrent any other of the nuclear states would give theirs up," Benn told the BBC's Andrew Marr show.
"The truth is that we live in a differently dangerous world now and we need a continuous at-sea-deterrent, and we need to do it in the most cost effective way – that is the view the Labour Party conference has taken for many years now."
Benn also argued Labour would not vote to leave Nato at the annual conference, following Corbyn's criticisms of the military alliance. "I don't think that is going to happen," he said.
"We've been members of Nato since it was created, in part with the support of the Labour government at the end of the Second World War that created the NHS and Ernie Bevin was the foreign secretary that helped make it happen, and it has been a cornerstone of our security – I simply don't see that happening."
Stop The War withdrawal
The comments come after Corbyn pulled out of Stop the War's annual conference. The 66-year-old, who stormed to victory in the Labour leadership election with almost 60% of the vote, was due to deliver his final speech as the anti-war group's chairman. But a Labour spokesperson said the veteran parliamentarian was unable to attend the event because of his "very busy" schedule as Labour leader.
The Islington North MP has been a supporter of the organisation since its formation in 2001 and the left-winger more recently reportedly promised to apologise on behalf of Labour for the UK's involvement in the Iraq War after MPs backed Tony Blair's government in 2003 to invade the Middle Eastern as part of a US-led coalition of forces.
But Benn, whose father Tony was one of the war's most well-known critics and Jeremy Corbyn's mentor, said the intervention was the right decision to make at the time. "Looking back, if we had known then that there were no weapons of mass destruction, but it was believed at the time they were, clearly parliament would not have vote to take that decision," he said.
"What Iraq has now is a fragile democracy. This was a country that had been brutally oppressed by Saddam Hussein over many years and the lid came off. The majority Shia [Muslims], who had been oppressed by the minority Sunni, said 'well, we are going to change things'."