25 Jun 2013

Report finds that leaving UK will weaken Scottish defence capability

Summary: A report on the defence capabilities of an independent Scotland has concluded that leaving the UK would be put the country at a “great practical disadvantage”.

The report, entitled Defence and Security in an Independent Scotland, was released by the Scotland Institute, an independent think-tank set up to examine the changing face of Scotland.

The report finds that an independent Scotland would not be able to reach the level of defence that Scottish citizens currently enjoy with the rest of the UK. As such, the report believes that an independent Scotland would fail to properly protect its citizens.

In particular, the report suggests that Scotland would have to develop its own fleet of ships, open an armed forces headquarters and create its own Ministry of Defence – moves which the report finds to be too costly to be achievable.

Although the report concedes that the SNP would have the ability to create a national Scottish Defence Force, its role would be limited, making Scotland no more positioned to promote security interests in the UK.

On the crucial issue of entry to NATO, the report finds the current situation in something of a grey area. While allowing that Scotland’s entry to NATO as a nuclear-free state has merit, it states that the presence of Trident nuclear missiles muddies the waters somewhat, and finds that the removal of these would be costly, time-consuming and at risk of veto from the rest of the UK, leading to doubts over the viability of an independent Scotland’s automatic entry to NATO.

Commenting on the report, SNP Westminster Leader and Defence Spokesperson Angus Robertson said:

“Scotland has an historic opportunity to make better decisions about defence rather than let Whitehall make bad decisions on our behalf. Personnel numbers in Scotland are at a record low after disproportionate cuts compared to the rest of the UK, and Scottish Taxpayers contribute far more to the UK Defence budget than is actually spent in Scotland.

“In recent years we have seen bases close, units disbanded and vital capabilities like maritime patrol scrapped. Just last week we saw another 4,500 serving personnel handed their redundancy notices, and we have just learnt that the Treasury is set to inflict further civilian cuts on the MOD this week.

“Rather than defend this appalling UK Government record in Scotland, we should welcome the prospect of better defence decisions in Scotland; securing jobs, conventional capabilities and facilities.”

Click here to read the full report from The Scotland Institute.