Speaking to Andrew Neil on the BBC’s This Week on Thursday night, Mr Portillo said:
“A former defence secretary and some Generals [this week] wrote a letter demanding the renewal of the Trident nuclear weapons programme. You’re probably familiar with these men who are worried about their own virility and buy large sports cars, and this I think is a case in point.
“I mean, Britain now has a minute army and a microscopic navy. And as these have become smaller so the status symbol of having nuclear weapons becomes more important, at least to some people.
“Our independent nuclear deterrent is not independent and doesn’t constitute a deterrent against anybody that we regard as an enemy. It is a waste of money and it is a diversion of funds that might otherwise be spent on perfectly useful and useable weapons and troops. But some people have not caught up with this reality.”
The UK’s armed forces are certainly not minuscule or microscopic, but Mr Portillo – who has long been an opponent of renewing Trident – joins a chorus of voices calling for the abandonment of the British state’s weapons of mass destruction. Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood last night reiterated her party’s opposition to Trident. In a Question Time Leaders’ special show on the BBC last night, she contended that scrapping the £100 billion Trident would go some way to addressing Wales annual £1.2 billion underfunding.