Birmingham Labour MPs have emerged as ringleaders in a rebellion over a #20 billion replacement for Trident.
Lynne Jones (Lab Selly Oak) and Richard Burden (Lab Northfield) are sponsoring a rebel amendment, attacking Government plans for a new nuclear weapons programme. Roger Godsiff (Lab Sparkbrook and Small Heath) is also planning to vote against the Government tomorrow.
They revealed their plans as a Minister resigned in protest at Government proposals to renew Britain’s submarine-based nuclear deterrent. Nigel Griffiths stepped down as Deputy Leader of the House of Commons to be able to vote against the Government.
The MP for Edinburgh South was appointed deputy to Commons Leader Jack Straw in May 2005 following Labour’s third General Election victory.
Last night he said he had "a heavy heart, but a clear conscience".
Another ministerial aide, Ealing North MP Stephen Pound – unpaid parliamentary private secretary to Labour chairwoman Hazel Blears – confirmed he would vote against the Government.
Mr Pound did not resign his post, although it is possible he could be sacked if he does rebel.
Reports have suggested up to 100 Labour MPs could vote against the Government or abstain in the vote over whether to renew the Trident submarine-based weapons system. A revolt of that scale would force the Government to rely on support from the Tories.
Mr Burden and Ms Jones are sponsoring an amendment calling for the decision to be delayed.
Britain’s four Vanguard class nuclear-powered submarines begin falling due for replacement in 2022, but the Ministry of Defence says a decision on replacement is due now because it will take 17 years to design and build the new craft.
"Nuclear weapons are extremely expensive and we could spend that money on other things that would actually help protect this country," Mr Burden said.
Dr Jones said: "I don't think anyone has established that we need to spend this much money. It won't make us safer – it will have the opposite effect."
Mr Godsiff said he had backed a nuclear deterrent when the Soviet Union threatened the West and much of the Labour Party, including Tony Blair, supported disarmament. But he said: "The end of the Cold War means the threat to this country has totally changed."
Other Labour MPs in the city will support the Government, including Sion Simon (Lab Erdington). He said: "Anybody who looks around the world in 2007 and thinks this is the time to start playing fast and loose with the nation's defences wants their head examined."
Mr Blair will also be able to count on the support of Gisela Stuart (Lab Edgbaston), Steve McCabe (Lab Hall Green), Liam Byrne (Lab Hodge Hill) and Khalid Mahmood (Lab Parry Barr).
Independent MP Clare Short (Ladywood) will oppose the Government, as will Liberal Democrat John Hemming (Yardley). Conservative MP Andrew Mitchell (Sutton Coldfield) will support Trident.