DAVID Cameron has admitted that he fears Hampshire backbencher Julian Lewis will never be satisfied with the Government over Britain’s nuclear defence – even if he ordered a submarine to be parked in the Solent and handed him the missile codes.
He mischievously added it could be in similar vein to the grouping who opposed the Alternative Vote, the electoral system Lib Dem coalition colleagues desperately wanted but failed to secure.
Dr Lewis said: “I’m grateful to the Prime Minister for repeating our commitment to the future of Trident, its renewal and continuous at sea deterrents remaining in place.
“Would he give his blessing to those honourable members both in the Conservative party and on the Labour benches who think like him that the nuclear deterrent should be above party politics and that we should form an alliance on this issue just as we did on the Alternative Vote so successfully?”
Dr Lewis has been a very vocal advocate of the case for renewing the Trident nuclear deterrent but the issue has created tensions within the coalition as Liberal Democrats are firm opponents.
The Prime Minister said a statement would be made later in the day on the issue.
That was made by Defence Secretary Liam Fox who gave the go-ahead for initial work to begin on its replacement.
But, sparking laughter from MPs, including Dr Lewis, Mr Cameron said: “I do agree that it would be better if we could elevate this issue over party politics and indeed when we voted to go ahead with Trident it was on the basis of a Labour motion that was supported by most Labour MPs and almost all Conservatives MPs.
“I have to say I have a feeling he will never be satisfied even if I placed a Trident submarine in the Solent opposite his constituency and handed him the code – something I’m afraid I’m simply not prepared to do.”
Speaking to the Daily Echo after the exchange Dr Lewis said: “I shall be keeping a keen look out for the appearance of the promised submarine in the Solent though I am quite happy for the Prime Minister to keep the launch codes.”