Nicola Sturgeon attacks Boris Johnson over nuclear weapons plan

‘Bairns not bombs’: Nicola Sturgeon attacks Boris Johnson over plans to increase the UK’s nuclear weapons stockpile as she accuses of PM of once claiming Scots were ‘free-riding on English taxpayers’ in election campaign speech

  • She blasted plans to potentially increase the UK’s atomic weapons stockpile 
  • The SNP has long campaigned to have nuclear weapons removed from Scotland  
  • Also cited PM’s 2001 column accusing Scots of ‘free-riding on English taxpayers’

Nicola Sturgeon made the Scottish elections into a personal battle with Boris Johnson today as she attacked the Prime Minister over nuclear weapons and past comments about Scots. 

She attacked Mr Johnson over plans unveiled to potentially increase the UK’s atomic weapons stockpile, in contrast to the SNP’s long-held demand for a nuclear-free Scotland. 

And in a speech that referenced Mr Johnson six times, she also used his own words against him.

Speaking in Glasgow she cited a column on devolution he wrote in 2001, while a writer for the Daily Telegraph, in which he said the move was ‘allowing the Scots to make their own laws, while free-riding on English taxpayers.

‘Boris Johnson has made it clear what he thinks of the way we do things in Scotland. In the past, he has accused us of ”free-riding” on tax-payers south of the border.

He has said it is ‘monstrous’ that we have free personal care. And he said a pound spent in Croydon is of far more value than a pound spent in Strathclyde.

‘Many of his band of Brexiteers are on record with similar views. Now, because of the strength of the SNP the Tories probably think they wouldn’t get away with cutting Scotland’s share of UK spending.

‘But I’m pretty sure that’s what they would like to do.’

Ms Sturgeon attacked Mr Johnson over plans unveiled to potentially increase the UK’s atomic weapons stockpile, in contrast to the SNP’s long-held demand for a nuclear-free Scotland.

She also cited a column on devolution he wrote in 2001, while a writer for the Daily Telegraph, in which he said the move was ‘allowing the Scots to make their own laws, while free-riding on English taxpayers’

The Integrated Review published a fortnight ago broadened the scenarios where nuclear weapons could be used by highlighting the ‘future threat of weapons of mass destruction’

Boris Johnson has moved to boost stocks of warheads held – with the top limit raised from 180 to 260.

The Integrated Review published a fortnight ago broadened the scenarios where nuclear  weapons could be used by highlighting the ‘future threat of weapons of mass destruction, such as chemical and biological capabilities, or emerging technologies that could have a comparable impact’.

Sources suggested ’emerging technologies’ could include cyber attacks or the use of artificial intelligence – with experts saying nuclear weapons are no longer the only way to ‘dismantle a society’.

The UK has not subscribed to a ‘no first strike’ policy in the past, with ministers saying that might be necessary in ‘extreme circumstances’.  

The stark warning came in a review that also warned it is ‘likely’ a terrorist organisation will launch a chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) attack before 2030.

Downing Street yesterday denied suggestions the decision to raise the cap on the UK’s stockpile of nuclear warheads breaches its international treaty obligations. 

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: ‘The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty doesn’t require us to reduce the number of warheads. All of our actions are consistent with our Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty obligations.’

Addressing the issue today, Ms Sturgeon said: ‘On the day that the Scottish Parliament was acting to protect children’s rights – what do you think Boris Johnson was doing?

‘He was setting out plans to go on a nuclear weapons spending spree – to massively increase the number of nuclear warheads the UK has.

‘Weapons that could wipe out swathes of civilisation at a stroke are not just immoral – they represent an obscene waste of money.

‘Friends, never has the ”bairns not bombs” argument been made so stark.’

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