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The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament today released a statement by 30 Labour MPs and MEPs calling on the Government to allow debate on British participation in the US Missile Defence system. The Labour Party is virtually alone amongst European social democratic parties in supporting the controversial system which many believe is already contributing to a new nuclear arms race.

US plans to site facilities for the system in Poland and the Czech Republic have exacerbated tensions with Russia and have led to condemnation by social democratic leaders in both countries as well as majority public opposition. A recent statement by the leaders of the Labour Party’s sister organisations in the Czech Republic (CSSD) and Poland (SLD) stated “The CSSD and SLD are afraid that the elements of the U.S. missile defence system on Czech and Polish soil would contribute to the undesirable return of a bi-polar division of the world and the cold war.”

Expressing their concern about the direction of British policy and its wider implications British MPs and MEPs stated as follows: “We welcome the recent joint statement on US Missile Defence agreed by the leaders of Labour’s sister parties in Poland and the Czech Republic. In recognising their concern at the lack of consultation or acknowledgment of public concern by their governments, we urge the UK government to arrange a full debate to allow MPs to scrutinise in public the US Missile Defence deployment plans in the UK.”

Signatories so far include: Diane Abbott MP, John Austin MP, Colin Burgon MP, Ronnie Campbell MP, Katy Clark MP, Harry Cohen MP, Michael Connarty MP, Frank Cook MP, Jeremy Corbyn MP, Jim Devine MP, Jim Dobbin MP, Mark Fisher MP, Paul Flynn MP, Neil Gerrard MP, Ian Gibson MP, Kate Hoey MP, Kelvin Hopkins MP, Lynne Jones MP, David Lepper MP, John McDonnell MP, Chris Mullin MP, Gordon Prentice MP, Alan Simpson MP, Dennis Skinner MP, Gavin Strang MP, Jon Trickett MP, Mike Wood MP
Glyn Ford MEP, Glenys Kinnock MEP, Claude Moraes MEP

Czech Social Democrat Shadow Foreign Secretary Lubomir Zaoralek MP is attending Labour Party Conference where he will be discussing his party’s opposition with Ministers including Foreign Secretary David Milliband. He will also argue, at a CND fringe meeting, that support for US Missile Defence risks a new cold war. [Fringe details in note 3 – Zaoralek is available for interview]

Kate Hudson, Chair of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, said, “Hosting the US Missile Defence system is a backward step for European security and is already destabilising the continent. It has sparked a Russian response that risks moving us all toward a new Cold War. This system will protect no-one, but will put Britain, and others involved, on the frontline in future US wars. It gives the US the ability to strike without fear of retaliation, so resulting in others enhancing their own systems in response. This is exactly why new arms control measures are desperately needed, rather than plans which will once again increase the number of missiles sited across Europe – and see them targeted again on Western Europe.”

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Notes to Editors:

1. For further information and interviews please contact Ben Soffa, CND’s Press & Communications Officer, on 0207 7002350 or 07968 420859
2. The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) is one of Europe’s biggest single-issue peace campaigns, with over 35,000 members in the UK. CND campaigns for the abolition of all nuclear weapons everywhere. www.cnduk.org
3. CND Fringe at Labour Party Conference: Opposing US Missile Defence: A European Perspective Speakers: Lubomir Zaoralek MP, Tony Benn, Katy Clark MP, Alice Mahon, Jeremy Corbyn MP, Kate Hudson, CND Chair, Chair: Ann Cryer MP Time: 7pm, Monday 22nd September Location: Novotel Hotel, Dickinson St, Manchester Lubomir Zaoralek MP will be available for interviews during Monday. He speaks perfect English. Contact Ben Soffa on 07968 420859 to arrange a time.