Angela Rayner said she wants to scrap nuclear weapons hours after Starmer said shadow cabinet backs him

Angela Rayner has said she still wants to rid the world of nuclear weapons - just hours after Sir Keir Starmer said his whole shadow cabinet was right behind his position on the UK’s nuclear deterrent.

On Monday Sir Keir said he was prepared to deploy weapons to protect Britain and announced a “triple lock” commitment for maintaining the Trident system.

In 2016 some of his shadow cabinet members voted against renewing the Trident deterrent, including deputy leader Angela Rayner and shadow foreign secretary David Lammy.

When asked about this, Sir Keir responded: “I lead this party. I have changed this party. If we are privileged to come in to serve, I will be the prime minister of the United Kingdom and I’ve made my commitment to this absolutely clear and I’ve got my whole cabinet, shadow cabinet, behind me.”

Labour Party leader Sir Keir Starmer said his whole shadow cabinet was behind his position on the Trident system (PA Wire)
Labour Party leader Sir Keir Starmer said his whole shadow cabinet was behind his position on the Trident system (PA Wire)

However just hours later Rayner told the BBC she had not changed her mind about nuclear weapons. She told the BBC: “I haven’t changed my mind.

“The vote that we had some years ago mentioned nothing about multilateral disarmament, and that’s what I feel is really important for the long term is that globally we should be looking at disarmament of nuclear weapons, but that has to be done in combination with other countries.”

In a tweet the deputy leader said she “fully supported” Labour’s triple lock commitment to Trident and that the UK’s nuclear deterrent is “more important than ever in a world where Putin’s war is on Europe’s doorstep”.

Speaking on ITV on if there was a split in the party over the issue, she said: “No, we are absolutely committed to nuclear defence, we have our triple lock, we have our three programmes.”

Ms Rayner voted against Trident while the party was under the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn in 2016. In respect of her position at the time, she tweeted: “Thanks for the tremendous support on my position over Trident, amazed we can find money for this but we steal £30 a week off disabled people.”

Grant Shapps, the defence secretary, said Sir Keir’s speech was “empty” and criticised him for failing to commit to a timeline of 2030 for spending 2.5 per cent of GDP on defence.

He said: “Starmer’s choice for foreign secretary, David Lammy, has described the UK’s nuclear deterrent as ‘senseless’. This rubbishes the claim that Labour has changed.

“It’s clear Starmer lacks the courage and conviction to stand up for Britain’s security.”