Sturgeon issued ‘major’ nuclear warning as Scotland to be ‘diminished’ under independence

Nicola Sturgeon sparks furious row with independence bid

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Scotland’s First Minister is unwavering in her wish for Scotland to become independent from the UK and the campaign for a second referendum is beginning to heat up.

But Sir Mark Lyall Grant, former National Security Adviser to both David Cameron and Theresa May and former UK ambassador the UN, told the nation’s “nuclear status” may be under threat if the country separates itself.

This is because the economy of an independent Scotland is looking increasingly unclear. Since 2014, Scotland’s deficit has increased and becoming an independent nation would mean a smaller economy, thus a smaller budget and less money spent on everything, including defence.

A diminished security and defence budget in Scotland would raise serious questions over their nuclear status. Sir Mark points to the Royal Navy’s base on the west coast of Scotland at Faslane, which is home to the UK’s nuclear submarines.

Sir Mark said: “There are other specific impacts, of course, which is that if you’ve got a smaller economy, you’re going to have a smaller budget and less money to spend on everything, including defence.

“You’ve then got the whole question of the nuclear submarine base in Faslane.  That is an issue, because of the shortage of suitable replacement sites’. 

“So there are some specific issues around air bases, nuclear submarine bases, and the military that are stationed in Scotland.  All could be resolved over time.  But obviously, it would have an impact on the UK’s defence arrangements.  

“But more important than that is the fact that the UK without Scotland would be a slightly diminished country and therefore have a slightly diminished impact in the world.”

The UK’s devolved nations benefit from shared airspace and seas, integrated armed forces and intelligence networks.

As the Lowy Institute Think Tank points out, Scottish independence would have “profound practical, financial and political consequences in defence and security, with significant implications for both Scotland and the rest of the UK, as well as the European Union and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation [NATO].”

Ms Sturgeon has indicated that she would be willing to move Trident overseas in the event of Scottish independence. She once called nuclear weapons “immoral, ineffective and a waste of money”.

The Scottish and British governments are seemingly at an impasse over this.

A Scottish government spokeswoman told The Independent: “The Scottish government firmly oppose the possession of nuclear weapons and we are committed to the safe and complete withdrawal of Trident from Scotland.”

But a spokesman for the MoD said: “The UK is strongly committed to maintaining its credible and independent nuclear deterrent at HM Naval Base Clyde, which exists to deter the most extreme threats to the UK and our NATO allies.”

Some analysts have predicted that the overall cost of relocation could reach £20 billion and may result in the British Government completely abandoning its nuclear weapons program.

Pamela Nash, chief executive of Scotland in Union, also told the Mail Online: “If Scotland chose to leave the UK we would be choosing to no longer be eligible for contracts where national security is a factor.”

While Sir Mark thinks these issues could be resolved “over time”, should Scotland become independent, he says, ultimately, it would become a slightly diminished country.

Earlier this month, the SNP leader told the BBC she would do everything within her power to give Scotland a vote on its independence. She believes support for independence is rising.

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