So it looks like the cost of building new Trident submarines will come from the MoD’s procurement budget (big spend items), taking up to 25% of it, according to an anonymous MoD source. This will average out in excess of ?2 billion a year over the build period, in addition to over ?2 billion a year from other MoD budgets on running costs for the existing system – and then the costs of running the new one must also be considered. And it may well work out to be a lot more than that.
Cost over-runs are a near certainty, with the current Astute submarine programme (nuclear powered subs with conventional weapons) running 48% over budget and almost four years late. Similar cost over-runs on the Trident replacement submarines could decimate army, air force and surface naval projects.
The vast spending on nuclear weapons is increasingly looking like a millstone round the neck of British defence policy, even to those who claim they want it – like Defence Secretary Liam Fox, who is reduced to scaremongering about runaway nuclear proliferation. But surely it is up to people like Fox to justify why there should be swingeing cuts to the rest of the armed forces – and government spending in other areas – to pay for them.
They say they want it, but clearly not badly enough to pay for it. They don’t want to cut back anything else and want ‘someone else’ to fund it. But whichever budget it comes from, the reality is that we’re all having to endure huge cuts elsewhere so that this white elephant can be retained.