British lawmakers are due to vote on whether to replace the country's fleet of nuclear-armed submarines, a powerful but expensive symbol of the country's military status.

The Conservative government is determined to maintain Britain's nuclear deterrent, which consists of four Royal Navy submarines armed with Trident missiles. It says replacing the aging submarines with new ones will cost up to 41 billion pounds ($54 billion).

Prime Minister Theresa May says it would be reckless to abandon the country's "ultimate safeguard."

Lawmakers are likely to back renewal Monday, despite opposition from the Scottish National Party and some Labour Party members.

Nuclear disarmament has been a lifelong cause for Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, but many of his lawmakers will probably vote to keep the submarines to protect thousands of unionized defense jobs.