Politics Explained

Questions on nuclear weapon use are tricky for any prime minister (or would-be PM)

Asked how she’d feel about pushing the button, Liz Truss answered as if in a job interview for head of sales, write Sean O’Grady

Wednesday 24 August 2022 21:30 BST
Truss at the Tory leadership hustings in Birmingham on Tuesday
Truss at the Tory leadership hustings in Birmingham on Tuesday (Getty)

Soon we may all become even more familiar with Liz Truss’s curiously deadpan way of speaking, a kind of monotone-with-pauses that sounds both unnatural and, as a result to my ear, unconvincing.

Hence her matter-of-fact response to questioning during the Tory leadership hustings in Birmingham about the use of the British nuclear deterrent, something that could quite conceivably result in some heavy consequences.

The moment of truth arrived when host John Pienaar asked the putative PM if she would give the order “to unleash nuclear weapons” from Trident in truly apocalyptic terms: “It would mean global annihilation. I won’t ask you if you would press the button, you’ll say yes, but faced with that task I would feel physically sick: How does that thought make you feel?”

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