Starmer backs ally who said 'quite happy' for Trident sabotage

Starmer backs ally who said 'quite happy' for Trident sabotage

April 4, 2022

Keir Starmer backs shadow minister who said he would be ‘quite happy’ for Russia to sabotage Britain’s Trident nukes despite Tories branding the remarks ‘treasonous’

  • Shadow minister said he would be ‘happy’ if Putin hacked UK’s Trident nukes
  • Fabian Hamilton dismissed criticism on footage of comments at 2019 CND rally 
  • Keir Starmer starmer batted away calls to sack him over ‘treasonous’ comments

Keir Starmer today backed a shadow minister who suggested he would be ‘quite happy’ if Russian hackers knocked out Britain’s nuclear deterrent. 

The Labour leader insisted he has ‘confidence’ in Fabian Hamilton despite footage showing him making remarks that were branded ‘treasonous’ by Tories.

In the video uncovered by the Mail on Sunday, the MP told a 2019 political rally that ‘Russian hackers can already hack into the software’ controlling Trident

He said, ‘I’d be quite happy about that,’ before adding: ‘As long as we could do the same to theirs.’

Mr Hamilton has rejected the ‘ludicrous’ criticism, and asked about the claims by broadcasters today Sir Keir said: ‘Look, he made some comments a number of years ago. I have confidence in him but the Labour Party position is absolutely clear.

‘I went to Brussels myself to see the secretary general to talk about Ukraine and to make clear our unshakeable commitment to Nato and of course to the deterrent that comes with being part of Nato.’

Sir Keir had said: ‘I have been very clear in relation to my position and the Labour Party position in favour of deterrence as a strong ally of Nato. We were there when the treaty was first signed and Nato was set up.

‘Our support for Nato is absolutely unshaken. I don’t think I could have been clearer in the last few weeks about the Labour Party position on either Trident or Nato.’  

Fabian Hamilton made the incendiary comments during the 2019 Labour party conference in Brighton

Mr Hamilton has rejected the ‘ludicrous’ criticism, and asked about the claims by broadcasters today Sir Keir said: ‘Look, he made some comments a number of years ago.’

Trident missiles (pictured in a 1999 launch) make up the UK’s independent nuclear deterrent

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace condemned Mr Hamilton yesterday for ‘siding with’ Russian President Vladimir Putin, who put his nuclear forces on ‘special combat readiness’ shortly after invading Ukraine in February.

Mr Wallace said Sir Keir should sack Mr Hamilton, adding: ‘It is one thing to disagree with the UK’s possession of nuclear weapons, but to take the side of a man who has deployed chemical weapons and who is responsible for bombing civilians in Ukraine is treasonous’.

He added that it was a test of leadership for Sir Keir, who faced criticism last year for failing to sack Angela Rayner when she called Tory voters ‘scum’.

‘Starmer took no action when his deputy leader called Tory voters scum,’ Mr Wallace said. 

‘Will he do nothing when one of his own Shadow Ministers backs Britain’s enemies?’

A spokesman for Mr Hamilton described Mr Wallace’s demands as ‘ludicrous’, adding: ‘Labour’s historic commitment to our nuclear deterrent is steadfast.

‘Vladimir Putin’s illegal and unprovoked war in Ukraine cannot be allowed to turn nuclear.’

Mr Hamilton, who made his remarks at a CND rally in September 2019 when he was both a Shadow Defence Minister and Shadow Foreign Office Minister under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership, was quoting a ‘former senior Labour colleague who was in Tony Blair’s Cabinet’, who had said nuclear weapons were ‘utterly useless’ because ‘Russian hackers can already hack into the software systems that control these weapons’.

‘Now, I don’t know enough about this to know whether that’s true or not,’ Mr Hamilton said.

‘But imagine for a minute that it is true. Not that they could actually set the weapons off, but that they could render them entirely useless. 

‘Well, I’d be quite happy about that,’ he said, before being careful to add: ‘As long as we could do the same to theirs.’

Mr Wallace said: ‘He is bordering on encouraging criminal activity – a dangerous man who is putting ideology above our public safety and playing with fire. Starmer should sack him.’

Mr Hamilton has also been criticised for hosting an antisemitic Jordanian MP in Parliament

In his speech, Mr Hamilton also argued that there was ‘never a better time’ for Britain to give up its nuclear weapons.

On the day Russia invaded Ukraine Putin gave a warning which was widely interpreted as a threat to use nuclear weapons.

He said: ‘No matter who tries to stand in our way or all the more so create threats for our country and our people, they must know that Russia will respond immediately, and the consequences will be such as you have never seen in your entire history.’

Mr Hamilton’s appointment in 2016 was ridiculed by the Tories, with one MP saying: ‘It’s a complete absurdity to appoint a Minister for Peace. 

‘What are they going to do, go around and be nice to people?

‘That is not the way the world works. We face a pretty unprecedented time of international tension. It’s simply peacenik Corbyn posturing and putting the nation’s defence at risk.’ 

The Trident leak is not the first time Mr Hamilton has been involved in controversy. 

In 2019, he welcomed Yahya Al-Saud into the Palace of Westminster. Al-Saud is a Jordanian MP who has made virulently antisemitic comments and was notorious for praising terrorism in Palestine.  

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