The political row about possible Scottish independence continues, with the UK’s Trident nuclear weapons fleet located at Faslane naval base being the latest controversy.
The SNP is pledged – with majority Scottish support – to removing nukes from Scotland altogether. This poses a major problem from the British government, in the event of independence, as authoritative reports show that there is no suitable location elsewhere in the UK. The potential cost of relocation – which would be immense – is now under major scrutiny.
Speaking to the Commons Scottish Affairs Committee, Nick Harvey (Minister for the Armed Forces) said that relocating the submarines “would take a very long time to complete and cost a gargantuan amount”. Junior Defence Minister Peter Luff said that relocation would be a “seismic shock” for the UK budget.
But the discussion also raised concerns about whether the British government would accept expulsion of Trident from Scotland, as Harvey concluded: “I would have thought that relocation would be about the least favourite option possible.”
Kate Hudson, CND General Secretary, said “for the MoD to even consider piling further billions into a strategically redundant and economically disastrous weapons system is irresponsible in the extreme.”
“Rather than seeing the potential impact of Scottish independence as a cue for a realistic strategic and economic appraisal of Britain’s nuclear weapons possession, the MoD is instead considering new ways to hemorrhage taxpayers’ money.”
“But the additional danger we now see emerging is that the British government, faced with an astronomical bill for relocation, will find political and economic ways of exerting pressure on a future independent Scotland to retain Trident in Faslane against its wishes. Neither ‘gargantuan’ spending on relocation, nor a ‘Guantanamo-style’ sovereign British nuclear base in an unwilling independent Scotland is acceptable. The only acceptable solution is to scrap Trident altogether. This is the popular choice and the one which makes strategic and economic common sense.”