Rishi Sunak has announced that £200 million of public money will go to Britain’s nuclear weapons industry, just weeks after a budget with no major announcements on military spending.

The PM made the announcement ahead of Monday’s photo op trip to the Barrow shipyard. The statement said £20 million would be spent annually over ten years, with the first tranche funding the A595 Grizebeck Bypass providing access to the BAE-operated shipyard. 

 “It is a dangerous fiction to believe we can live without nuclear power and our nuclear deterrent,” Sunak said in a post on his X / Twitter account, in an admission of the links between civilian and military nuclear.

The government’s statement said it would also partner with military and nuclear contractors like BAE Systems, Babcock, EDF, and Rolls-Royce.

The firms are major players in Britain’s nuclear industry and have already made billions of pounds on civilian and military nuclear projects. Last week, the Australian government said it would give Britain £2.4 billion for work on AUKUS, including funds for Rolls-Royce to expand its facilities in Britain.

BAE Systems, meanwhile, was the big winner of a £4 billion British government contract for AUKUS work awarded last October. 

Defence Secretary Grant Shapps has also unveiled a new Defence Command Paper which sets out more detail on the Dreadnought programme. The government hopes these submarines will come into service in the early 2030s, replacing the ageing Vanguard fleet which has repeatedly come under scrutiny amid a litany of cost-overruns, accidents, and test failures. 

CND General Secretary Kate Hudson said:

“Just weeks after the dust has settled on a budget that did nothing to address the real problems that we face, the government has made yet more public money available for Britain’s nuclear weapons industry and is unusually linking nuclear power and nuclear weapons in the same breath. It’s good that the prime minister is owning up to the linkage, but the suggestion that they are needed for both national and energy security is a complete fallacy.

“As the long-delayed Hinkley Point C shows, nuclear power is neither a timely nor cost effective way of generating electricity. It is extremely cynical of the government to use a genuine issue like energy security to greenwash nuclear power and nuclear weapons. The additional funding pumped into these will inevitably find its way into the pockets of investors through government contracts financed by the public.”

Photo: Simon Dawson / No 10 Downing Street