By Bill Heaney

Pope Francis and Nicola Sturgeon found themselves singing from the same hymn sheet on nuclear weapons this Sunday morning.

The Pope wants the Faslane-based nuclear submarine fleet scrapped, and the First Minister has told Sky News she is in complete agreement with the Pontiff.

She wants to rid Scotland of the Trident nuclear weapon system.

Ms Sturgeon stated that this is “an absolute red line” for the SNP in any negotiations after the General Election.

The SNP leader confidently laid out her four red line demands to Jeremy Corbyn this morning – insisting he has to give Scotland massive concessions if he wants the keys to No 10.

Ms Sturgeon also listed a second independence referendum, an end to Brexit, and wholesale devolution of powers on drugs, migration and employment.

That result would likely see Labour try to negotiate a confidence and supply agreement with the SNP, since Mr Corbyn and Ms Sturgeon have ruled out a formal coalition.

SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon reiterated her pledge to “never, ever put Boris Johnson into Downing Street”.

Sturgeon also cited other demands that were all in line with current Labour policy.

These include an end to Universal Credit, an end to the two child cap and rape clause, as well as “real action” on climate change.

Sky News host Sophy Ridge asked her: “Just to be crystal clear, scrapping Trident would be red line in any discussions with Labour that you may have?”

The SNP leader responded: “It is absolutely a key position the SNP would have in any discussions about supporting a minority Labour government.

“It is a matter we would be firm about It is tied to other policies. I have a moral objection to nuclear weapons.

“Unlike Jo Swinson, I would not be prepared to press a nuclear button that would kill millions of people.

“But there is also the opportunity cost. The tens of billions that are required to renew Trident are better spent on stronger conventional defence, but also on hospitals, and schools, and better social security provisions.

“If the SNP are in that position of influence, those are the policies we will pursue.”


Brendan O’Hara


Her statement must surely put the jacket of the sitting SNP MP, Brendan O’Hara, pictured left, on a shaky nail since he only has a 2,000 plus majority in the Argyll and Bute seat and 10,000 jobs in Faslane and Coulport depend on HMS Naval Base Clyde, which is currently being expanded, not run down.

Meanwhile, Pope Francis made an impassioned appeal for the abolition of nuclear weapons during a visit to Nagasaki this morning, one of the two Japanese cities targeted by atomic bombs during World War Two.

He decried the “unspeakable horror” of nuclear weapons and insisted they were “not the answer” for global peace.

At least 74,000 were killed in Nagasaki by the attack by US forces in 1945.

Two survivors of the bombing, now both in their 80s, presented the pontiff with a wreath during the Sunday service.

Pope France arrived from Thailand on Saturday for a four-day visit, which is only the second papal visit to Japan.

Hundreds of people gathered in the pouring rain to hear him in Nagasaki. The Pope then attended a meeting at the Peace Memorial in Hiroshima, the site of the other atomic attack.

What did the Pope say?

In a sombre ceremony, the Pope unequivocally condemned the use of nuclear weapons.

“This place makes us deeply aware of the pain and horror that we human beings are capable of inflicting upon one another,” he said at the event in Nagasaki.

Nuclear weapons: Explained in numbers

During his speech, Pope Francis also took aim at their use as a deterrent and insisted peace is incompatible with the “fear of mutual destruction or the threat of total annihilation.”

He also criticised the money “squandered” on the weapons around the world and mentioned a “climate of distrust” hindering contemporary non-proliferation and arms control efforts.

Sakue Shimohira, 85, and Shigemi Fukahori, 89, were two survivors who met with the Pope during the visit.

“My mother and older sister were killed, charred,” Ms Shimohira was quoted by AFP news agency as saying. “Even if you survived, you couldn’t live like a human or die like a human… It’s the horror of nuclear weapons.”

There are about 536,000 Catholics in Japan, according to Vatican News. The number makes up less than only 0.5% of the population – where Buddhism and Shinto sects are the most popular religions.

Nagasaki is known for being home to so-called “hidden Christians” who practised their faith underground when it was banned during the 17th Century.

What happened in Hiroshima and Nagasaki?

The first atomic bomb was dropped on the city of Hiroshima by a US warplane on 6 August 1945.

The US hoped the bombing, which came after Japan rejected an earlier ultimatum for peace, would force a quick surrender without risking US causalities on the ground.

The first bomb killed an estimated 140,000 people in Hiroshima – about half of which are thought to have died on its initial impact.

The attack was the first use of nuclear weapons, which had just been developed, during a war. US President Harry Truman only announced their existence after the first bomb was dropped.

When no immediate surrender came from the Japanese, US forces dropped a second bomb three days later.

Nagasaki was actually not the initial target of the attack, but was only chosen after bad weather obscured the main target city of Kokura.

Japan surrendered six days later and officially brought about the end of World War Two.

The necessity of the bombs, and their devastating and lasting impact on civilians, has been contested since.

Additional reporting by BBC, The Guardian and Sky News


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