Labour leader to join march through central London on February 27 as anti-Trident campaign gears up ahead of expected vote in March
Jeremy Corbyn will address an estimated 50,000 people in Trafalgar Square in the biggest anti-nuclear march for a generation as campaigners begin a “mass lobby” of MPs over Trident.
With a parliamentary vote expected as early as March, MPs were approached in their constituencies over the weekend by Trident critics in a “coordinated” drive to convince them to scrap the nuclear deterrent.
A mass email campaign is expected in the coming weeks to increase pressure on those MPs – especially in the Labour Party – who are undecided over renewal.
Photo: Nick Edwards/The Telegraph
Campaigners want to deliver a message to Parliament that spending more than £100 billion on Trident renewal during a period of austerity is a “ridiculous diversion of funds”.
However Trident backers fear a repeat of the pressure that Labour MPs faced before the Syrian air strikes vote, which triggered complaints of bullying and intimidation.
The Labour leader will put himself at the front of the campaign alongside Nicola Sturgeon, the Scottish First Minister, by attending a march through central London on February 27, according to the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament’s (CND) website.
Two campaign sources told The Telegraph that Mr Corbyn has confirmed he would be attending the demonstration.
A message on CND’s website reads: “Join us to say No to government plans to buy a new system at a cost of over £100 billion. Parliament will be voting on this in 2016. So this is urgent – we can’t delay.”
Around 10,000 people have already signed up and some backers hope more than 50,000 people will attend – though others are reluctant to predict turnout.
A campaign source said: “We are hoping to make it the biggest demonstration against nuclear weapons since the 1980s. We are really going all out to make this as big as possible.”
Both Caroline Lucas, the Green Party MP, and Leanne Wood, Plaid Cymru’s leader, are expected to attend.
A mass leafleting campaign is also being planned, with CND urging opponents of Trident to distribute campaign literature at train stations, churches and community centres.
A “coordinated” move to lobby MPs at constituency events was also held over the weekend with hundreds of politicians understood to have been targeted.
With the SNP opposing Trident and the vast majority of Tories expected to back renewal, Labour MPs are seen as the key undecided voters when Parliament is asked to make a decision.
The Telegraph revealed earlier this week that less than a quarter of Mr Corbyn’s shadow campaign back his opposition of Trident renewal – though the Labour leader’s allies believe MPs are more evenly divided.
Mr Corbyn’s office has been approached for a comment.