Cumbria

Russell Brand Trident attack prompts invitation to Barrow

Russell Brand Image copyright Russell Brand
Image caption The "Trews" video shows an animated Brand in typically non-conformist style and location

Comedian Russell Brand has been invited to face shipyard workers after saying the Trident replacement programme they are working on should be scrapped.

He posted a video online saying too much money was spent on defence and it should go to the NHS instead.

New submarines carrying nuclear weapons are being designed at BAE Systems in Barrow, Cumbria.

Barrow Labour MP John Woodcock said he would rather be protected by a nuclear deterrent than an "eccentric comedian".

In his own online video he said: "This is a substantial investment, but the overall majority of this goes on employing the many thousands of the most highly-skilled engineers and manufacturers.

"I want us to have more to be able to defend this country than a sharp-witted, eccentric comedian.

"Come to Barrow and meet some of this workforce. Let's do this thing properly."

Image copyright BAE Systems
Image caption BAE Systems is designing submarines due to replace Vanguard-class boats which carry Trident missiles

Brand had asked how the country could have a "properly-funded NHS".

"Is it at the expense of the arms industry? The answer is obviously yes," he said.

"As the NHS struggles against a £2bn funding gap this year the money diverted into Trident - £3.3bn being spent in the assessment phase, not to mention the £2-3bn we spend every year just running our current Trident system - reflects the choice our government has made."

He appeared to be quoting a New Statesman article by Kate Hudson from the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament in part of what he said.

Brand was unavailable for comment on Mr Woodcock's remarks and BAE declined to comment.

The firm's Barrow shipyard employs about 6,900 people. Around 1,400 of those are currently working on the Successor submarine replacement programme.

The government has put the cost of replacing Trident at £15-20bn, but campaigners have argued it will cost at least £34bn.

The replacement submarines are expected to come into operation in 2028.

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