DAVID Lammy has praised a “great” Labour figure who successfully made the case for Britain to become a nuclear power – despite his previously staunch opposition to Trident.

Labour’s shadow foreign secretary heaped praise on former foreign secretary Ernest Bevin – who persuaded then-prime minister Clement Attlee “that the United Kingdom should acquire nuclear weapons” in the 1940s.

Lammy’s position on nuclear weapons has changed significantly in his time in politics.

He was previously vigorously opposed to renewing Trident, telling MPs in 2016 he could not vote to write “what is effectively a blank cheque for nuclear weapons”.

READ MORE: David Lammy joins Labour MPs praising Margaret Thatcher

Lammy added: “I stand here first and foremost as a Christian, and I speak from that perspective. I stand here united with Pope Benedict XVI, who has said: ‘In a nuclear war there would be no victors, only victims.’”

But writing in the Foreign Affairs magazine on Wednesday, Lammy said Labour would take the pro-nuclear Bevin as one of its role models on foreign policy if it wins the next election.

He wrote: “He stiffened wavering American resolve during the 1948–49 Soviet blockade of Berlin by spelling out the stakes for US officials, pushed for a West German state as an anchor for the West, and persuaded British prime minister Clement Attlee that the United Kingdom should acquire nuclear weapons.

“His crowning achievement was convincing a sceptical Truman administration to commit to a Nato alliance that explicitly declared that an attack on any member was an attack on all members – the treaty’s totemic Article 5.

“Thanks to Bevin’s work, the alliance has held firm. April of this year marked the 75th anniversary of Nato’s creation.”

Martin Docherty-Hughes, the SNP's defence spokesperson, said: “Westminster's obsession with Trident has done nothing but impose a bill of tens of billions of pounds on Scotland.

“David Lammy reveals his ignorance and reminds us of Labour’s broken priorities that see nuclear missiles put before ordinary people.

"And at a time of rising global tensions where we should be shoring up our conventional defences, Labour are instead tying us to weapons that can't and shouldn't ever be used."

The Scottish Greens said that by "doubling down on Trident to its disgraceful support of the brutal destruction of Gaza, Labour has made it clear that it will follow the same disastrous foreign policy as the Tories". 

Greens MSP Maggie Chapman added: "We are in the worst cost of living crisis for generations.

"It is shocking that a future Labour government would pour tens of billions of pounds worth of public money in to maintaining these grotesque weapons of mass murder rather than funding the vital services that we all rely on.

"With Labour and the Tories united in their support for these killing machines, the only way that Scotland can remove these deadly weapons from our waters and become a force for peace in the world is with the powers of independence."