14 Jun 2013

Fresh concerns raised over future of defence after Scottish independence

Summary: Unionist UK politicians have reiterated their concerns regarding the future of the defence industry should Scotland vote to become independent.

A recent Scottish Affairs Committee Report, issued at Westminster in April, has raised concerns about the future of thousands of defence jobs if Scotland voted for independence.

The report – entitled The Referendum on Separation for Scotland: How would Separation affect jobs in the Scottish defence industry? – suggests that separation from the UK would mean Scotland would lose its share of Britain’s existing multibillion-pound defence export industry, including sales to the USA, and would struggle to establish its own rival industry as an independent nation.

It also suggests that staff at 50 Scottish-based companies currently cleared to undertake classified defence work would no longer be able to carry out such duties because of restricted access to material classified for “UK Eyes Only”.

SNP defence spokesman Angus Robertson said of the issue: “An independent Scotland will have a defence and security policy made expressly to suit priorities in Scotland, including respecting the wishes of the clear majority in Scotland who want to get rid of nuclear weapons from the Clyde.”

However, the UK Government questioned whether Scotland would continue to have “privileged access” to the existing UK-US defence trade co-operation treaty, and suggested that Scotland would be competing in the international market for bids in the remaining UK.

Mr Robertson responded: “Westminster’s scaremongering on defence was exposed this week when senior military officers gave evidence that the SNP’s policy on no nuclear weapons in NATO is perfectly acceptable and that the SNP plans for a Joint Force Headquarters at Faslane is the obvious choice for an independent Scotland.”

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