Within days of entering office, every British prime minister must carry out a grim task: writing letters of “last resort” to the commanders of the country’s nuclear-armed submarines. The letters are written out in long hand and placed in sealed safes in each of the nation’s four Vanguard-class submarines, all home-ported on the River Clyde in Scotland. The missives spell out the prime minister’s orders in the case that he and other government officials have been killed in a nuclear attack on Britain.
But after a majority of Brits voted last month to leave the European Union, those letters — and with them the U.K.’s nuclear arsenal — may become a relic of the past.
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