Tom Richmond: Jeremy Corbyn’s nuclear note set to mean no defence at all

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.
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A NEW Prime Minister’s first duty is one of the most onerous of their entire premiership.

Within minutes of entering 10 Downing Street, they must decide how the military should react of Britain comes under nuclear attack.

Like her predecessors, Theresa May would have been given four options on the evening of July 13 – to retaliate; to do nothing; to act as the Captain deems best or for a Trident submarine to be placed under the control of a friendly ally like the US or Australia.

By all accounts, Tony Blair went “quite white” when given this task and no one knows the conclusion that Mrs May reached.

Yet, after the past week’s Labour conference, it can be safely assumed that Jeremy Corbyn would opt for the ‘do nothing’ strategy – after another long-winded consultation – in the unlikely event of him becoming Prime Minister.

Even though his MPs are committed to endorsing the renewal of the Trident nuclear deterrent, he has made clear that he will not compromise his principles.

And Mr Corbyn’s control-freakery is such that a key passage on Trident was removed from young whipper-snapper defence spokesman Clive Lewis’s conference speech just as he walked up to the lectern to deliver a stronger commitment to the renewal of the country’s nuclear deterrent.

By all accounts, Mr Lewis – a former soldier – later punched a wall in frustration when he realised he had been stitched up while Mr Corbyn toured the TV studios and said: “We obviously discuss what is going to be said, and Clive delivered a speech on behalf of all of us.”

Why does this matter? A prime minister’s first responsibility is national security. If Labour can’t come up with a credible policy agreed by the whole party – its leader, MPs and activists – it does not deserve to be taken seriously by the electorate.

Just imagine if Mr Corbyn won the next election. When asked to write his nuclear orders, would he put his views before those of his party and the electorate? The country has a right to know. And that’s before the small matter of economic incompetence...

FIRST elected to Parliament in May last year as MP for York Central, Labour’s front bench is so bereft of talent that Rachael Maskell is now Shadow Environment Secretary.

This is what she told delegates: “Labour will back British Farming – plough to plate. Ready now to: Revive Rural Communities; Revive Coastal Communities; Revive Urban Communities.”

Soundbites are no substitute for substance – or experience.

THE ‘mouth of the Humber’ was in full voice at the Labour conference – John Prescott took the opportunity to describe his one-time Cabinet colleague David Blunkett as “a bloody catastrophe” after the former Home Secretary said the party would remain unelectable under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership.

With regard to the use of the phrase “a bloody catastrophe”, I suppose it takes one to know one, although I suspect most voters and Labour members still hold Lord Blunkett in a far higher regard than Two Jags / Jabs (delete as appropriate).

ANOTHER Labour politician who needs to think before he speaks is scaremonger-in-chief Andy Burnham who claims the hard Brexit being sought by Theresa May is creating hostility on the streets of Britain.

Perhaps the outgoing Shadow Home Secretary might care to listen to his party colleague Rachel Reeves after the Leeds West MP said that immigration controls do need to be integral to any Brexit settlement because of “bubbling tensions in this country”.

I only hope the good people of Manchester have the sense to see through Mr Burnham’s phoniness prior to next May’s metro mayor election.

MORE rewards for failure – Dyan Crowther, one of the top bosses at rail firm Southern, which was forced to rip up its timetable because it didn’t have enough staff or trains, is the new chief executive of HS1, the high speed rail link from St Pancras to the Channel Tunnel.

Evidently she has “a strategic understanding of HS1 as a business and a vision to take it forward”. Let’s hope there’s enough trains and that this is not an early example of Theresa May’s ‘governing for all and not the privileged few’ mantra.

NO wonder Remain lost the EU referendum if David Cameron’s press chief Sir Craig Oliver was too busy writing a mischief-making diary of the campaign rather than advising the PM on the public mood over immigration.

THIS is probably not the 60th birthday that Theresa May envisaged exactly 100 days ago when the EU referendum was held – her first party conference as Tory leader, Prime Minister and the politician tasked with making sense of ‘Brexit means Brexit’. However the PM should be comforted by the fact that hers is only the third most difficult job in Britain – behind leading the Labour Party and managing the England football team.

LIKE many, I dislike the over-use of the exclamation ‘absolutely’ – and Five Live sports presenter George Riley, from Leeds, remains the worst offender of all.

However it is the only word that does justice to Monday’s debate between US Presidential hopefuls Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. The former was awful; the latter absolutely awful and a danger to world peace.

HOW refreshing that cycling’s golden couple Laura Trott and Jason Kenny were able to celebrate their wedding in private – and that the arrangements were not leaked. It speaks volumes about their family and friends as well as the down-to-earth values of Team GB’s medal-winners. What a contrast to football’s money-grabbing mercenaries.

TAKE a bow Nile Wilson, Not only did the Leeds gymnast perform hand-stands on an open top bus during the homecoming parade for Yorkshire’s Rio heroes – but he then spoke with eloquence to civic dignitaries and thanked them, on behalf of all Team GB members, for their support, commitment to sport and importance of Team Yorkshire. A class act.

tom.richmond@ypn.co.uk