Its independence handed over to Washington gift-wraped, its nukes are the last vestige of Britain's long-lost great power status
There is currently a heated debate going on in Britain whether the country should renew its trident nuclear missiles. Conservatives claim the modernization will cost no more than £31 billion and insist it should be done. Corbyn's labourites on the other hand want to give them up asserting UK is better off without.
Last week US Defense Secretary Ash Carter joined the debate offering that UK should definetely renew its nukes in order to "continue to play that outsized role on the global stage that it does because of its moral standing and its historical standing."
Carter couldn't be more right or more wrong. Great Britain is indeed a former global power and its nukes are a reminder of that. However, the truth is also that UK has given up the role of a power long ago and will not recap it either with nukes or without.
To be a great power a state must first be an independent power - something that the UK is empathically not.
Since at least 1956 Great Britain has followed the US lead as an obedient puppy. Wherever it has influenced its power it has also sought the green light from Washington. It's relatively advanced military and impressive development did nothing to prevent it from willingly becoming a client state of Washington.
As such Carter's suggestion that nukes are the difference whether UK plays an "outsized" role in the world or not is laughable. Politicaly subordinate to the US the UK plays no independent role in the world to begin with. It may pull a decent amount of weight in US service advancing the interests of American Empire but none of that is for the glory or status of Great Britain itself.
Russia is often dismissed as "Nigeria with nukes" or a "gas station with nukes" – the implication being that its nuclear arsenal is Russia's solitary claim to great power status. That is not true, however. Russia's first and foremost claim to great power status is that it's part of its own, Russian, sphere of influence rather than that of the US. Unlike the UK it is an actually independent actor on the international scene.
So the Brits may go and spend a minimum of £31 billion to pretend they're still a great power – but really that just looks like a desperate attempt to try and wash the shame of having long ago given up their actual foreign policy independence to the Imperial court in Washington DC.
So it is really the satrapy that is Great Britain that much better than Moscow deserves the description of a "petrol station with nukes". And if that is not really true, it's not because of UK might or influence in the world, but because the North Sea doesn't even hold that much oil. So to be perfectly fair we'll deem it a "poodle with nukes".
And the only way that can change, is if Britain has it in itself to free itself of domination by its former colony. Tridents? They're a moot point.