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59% of the public think that the UK should sign up to a new UN treaty outlawing nuclear weapons, while 77% support a total global nuclear weapons ban, according to new polling by Survation for the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND). 

The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW), which will come into force in international law on Friday 22 January, is supported by 122 UN member states. It outlaws the development, possession, and deployment of nuclear weapons by signatory states, and places obligations on them to assist victims of nuclear weapons use and testing. 

So far, the UK government has strongly opposed the TPNW, boycotting UN negotiations. But it has come under pressure to sign the Treaty from religious leaders including the Archbishop of Canterbury, and campaigns such as CND. 

Survation’s national survey for CND, conducted 12-13 January 2021, shows: 

  • 59% of the public support the UK government signing up to the TPNW, including 50% of Conservative voters and 68% of Labour voters.
  • 77% support a ‘total ban on all nuclear weapons globally’, including 71% of Conservative voters and 83% of Labour voters.
  • Both the UK signing the TPNW and a total global nuclear ban have majority support across every single demographic (age, regions and nations, education level, income bracket, 2019 GE vote, and 2016 EU referendum vote). 

Kate Hudson, CND General Secretary, said: 

‘We already know that the vast majority of countries globally are in favour of the UN’s Nuclear Ban Treaty. But this polling shows that by refusing to sign or even engage with the Treaty, the government is standing against not only the majority of UN-member states, but the public opinion of its own citizens. 

The government should cease its intransigence and engage constructively with this new Treaty – including the provisions which allow the UK to sign up while submitting a time-constrained plan for disarmament. 

Ahead of the publication of the Integrated Review, it is clearer than ever that real security for Britain requires addressing the risks posed by the climate emergency and pandemics on a global scale. Nuclear weapons only add to the dangers we face and do nothing to deal with these global problems. It’s time for the UK to dispense with nuclear weapons and invest in solutions to meet our actual security needs.’

Jeremy Corbyn MP, Vice-President of CND, said: 

‘The majority of British people understand that nuclear weapons are both a threat to the future of humanity and a grotesque waste of money that could be used wisely to provide real security. 

We must all step up our campaigning efforts to force the British Government to sign the ban treaty. And we must step up our campaigning for an end to Trident, with defence diversification and job security.’

Kirsten Oswald MP, Deputy Leader of the SNP Westminster Group said:

‘Nuclear weapons have no future in Scotland. In the SNP’s vision for an independent Scottish foreign policy, there will be no place for weapons of mass destruction on our soil. 

But this polling makes clear that there is majority public support across the UK for the UN Nuclear Ban Treaty, and overwhelming opposition to nuclear weapons. 

The UK government should take a lead by signing and ratifying the TPNW, as the first step towards a defence strategy that guarantees global security, rather than threatening it with dangerous nuclear weapons.’