Nicola Sturgeon attacks Jo Swinson over nuclear weapons stance
20th November 2019

Nicola Sturgeon attacks Jo Swinson after the Liberal Democrat leader says she WOULD be prepared to authorise the use of nuclear weapons as the Scottish First Minister says the issue should not be treated as a ‘virility test’

  • Jo Swinson said without hesitation she would push the nuclear button as PM 
  • Nicola Sturgeon condemned the answer and said she would not use the weapons
  • Ms Sturgeon said it was ‘sickening’ to treat using such weapons as a ‘virility test’
  • Row came as the Lib Dems prepared to publish their general election manifesto 

Nicola Sturgeon has condemned Jo Swinson after the Liberal Democrat leader said without hesitation that she would authorise the use of nuclear weapons. 

Ms Swinson was asked the question last night and she immediately replied with a simple ‘yes’. 

The swift nature of her reply prompted anger from Ms Sturgeon as the SNP leader said it was ‘sickening’ to see the use of nuclear weapons treated like ‘some kind of virility test’ for politicians. 

Ms Sturgeon, the Scottish First Minister, said she would not in any circumstances authorise such a strike, with the SNP long-committed to getting rid of the UK’s nuclear arsenal.  

The row between the two party leaders came as the Liberal Democrats and Ms Swinson prepared to publish their 2019 general election manifesto. 

The party’s blueprint for the UK will be built around its centre-piece pledge to stop Brexit. 

Jo Swinson, pictured during an interview on ITV last night, simply replied ‘yes’ when she was asked if she would authorise the use of nuclear weapons

Ms Swinson’s response prompted anger from Nicola Sturgeon who said using the weapons should not be treated as ‘some kind of virility test’ for politicians

The issue of whether party leaders would agree to the use of nuclear weapons has become a familiar question during election campaigns in recent years. 

But Ms Sturgeon objected to Ms Swinson’s seemingly flippant response when she was asked if she would push the nuclear button if she ever became prime minister. 

The SNP leader tweeted: ‘It’s sickening to hear this question asked and answered as if it’s some kind of virility test and without any context. 

‘Using nuclear weapons would mean killing millions of people. Those consequences should be made clear. (FWIW – and for that reason – my answer is “no”).’

The use of nuclear weapons is politically divisive with Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn having been heavily criticised for his stance on the issue. 

He was attacked recently after he signalled he would be willing to scrap the UK’s Trident nuclear deterrent.

He is a vocal and long-time opponent of nuclear weapons and he recently said the UK’s missiles ‘would be part’ of any future ‘nonproliferation treaty discussions’. 

Mr Corbyn’s comments were pounced on by his critics as they suggested they showed the Labour leader could not be trusted with maintaining the UK’s national security.  

MPs voted in July 2016 to renew Trident as they gave the green light to building four new replacement submarines to carry the UK’s nuclear missiles. 

Labour MPs were given a free vote on the issue and the majority backed renewal but Mr Corbyn voted against maintaining Britain’s continuous at-sea nuclear deterrent.  

The SNP has hinted that scrapping Trident could be a red line during any post-election talks with Labour about the prospect of propping up an administration led by Mr Corbyn. 

Meanwhile, shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry earlier this month claimed Mr Corbyn would not have sole control of the nuclear deterrent if he becomes PM and that other people would be involved in the decision-making process. 

In the past Mr Corbyn has explicitly ruled out deploying nuclear weapons, even if the UK was attacked.    

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