Government to annex Trident base in independent Scotland? Not credible, says No 10

 

The Government has downplayed reports that it is considering controversial plants to annex its Trident nuclear base in Scotland amid a storm of protests from Scottish politicians.

According to reports, Ministry of Defence officials are exploring the idea of classifying the Faslane naval base on Gare Loch as a sovereign UK territory ahead of a potential ‘yes’ vote in the upcoming referendum on Scottish independent next year.

The Trident outpost, which houses Britain’s fleet of Vanguard nuclear submarines, has been a political focal point for Scotland's ‘yes’ campaign, which has struggled to capitalise on initial, short-lived excitement surrounding the referendum.

As a result, the Scottish Independence Party (SNP) has pledged to expel nuclear weapons from the country should they secure independence, reportedly leaving the Coalition in the difficult position of choosing to relocate the base or co-opt the area into the new UK.

The latter would leave the military dock with the same status as similar bases in Cyprus, which have long been treated as sovereign territory.

Suggesting the creation of contingency plans for a Scottish vote to withdraw from the Union, a government source told The Guardian: "The sovereign base area is an option - it is an interesting idea because the costs of moving out of Faslane are eye-wateringly high."

However, Number 10 this morning said it was not "credible or sensible" to designate Faslane as sovereign UK territory in the event of Scottish independence. Downing Street later Tweeted: "This govt has not commissioned contingency plans over Faslane. No such ideas have come to SoS [Secretary of State] or PM. They would not support them if they did."

The reversal follows a string of attacks from leading SNP figures. Speaking yesterday, Angus Robertson, leader of the party in Westminster, said: "This is an extraordinary attempt by Westminster to bully Scotland. Neither the people nor parliament of Scotland want nuclear weapons dumped here, and we are clear that Trident would have to be removed as quickly as possible.

“Only a yes vote next September will empower Scotland to get rid of Trident, and the money saved help build a fairer society and stronger economy."

Scotland's Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon added such a move could not go ahead without the agreement of the Scottish Government, which would by unlikely.

"This seems to me to be an outrageous attempt at bullying by the UK Government," Ms Sturgeon told BBC Radio's Good Morning Scotland programme. "I can't see how they could do that without the agreement of the Scottish Government and speaking for my party that is not an agreement that would be forthcoming."

She insisted it was a "preposterous threat from the UK Government" and added: "I think it would be far better for the UK Government, rather than issuing threats via the media, if they were to sit down round a table with us now and have a sensible, grown up discussion about what we need to do to get rid of Trident in the event of a Yes vote."

Ms Sturgeon continued: "Politicians, often and sometimes justifiably, get criticised for a lack of principle - getting rid of Trident is an issue of principle, certainly for the party and government that I represent.

"It's not a bargaining chip. Trident nuclear weapons, weapons of mass destruction that we're supposedly trying to get rid of from the rest of the world, are not right, they're immoral, they don't serve any useful purpose, they take up obscene amounts of money that would be better spent on conventional forces, on social and public services."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Environmental Adviser - Maternity Cover

£37040 - £43600 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The UK's export credit agency a...

Recruitment Genius: CBM & Lubrication Technician

£25000 - £27500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides a compreh...

Recruitment Genius: Care Worker - Residential Emergency Service

£16800 - £19500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Would you like to join an organ...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Landscaper

£25000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: In the last five years this com...

Day In a Page

The long walk west: they fled war in Syria, only to get held up in Hungary – now hundreds of refugees have set off on foot for Austria

They fled war in Syria...

...only to get stuck and sidetracked in Hungary
From The Prisoner to Mad Men, elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series

Title sequences: From The Prisoner to Mad Men

Elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series. But why does the art form have such a chequered history?
Giorgio Armani Beauty's fabric-inspired foundations: Get back to basics this autumn

Giorgio Armani Beauty's foundations

Sumptuous fabrics meet luscious cosmetics for this elegant look
From stowaways to Operation Stack: Life in a transcontinental lorry cab

Life from the inside of a trucker's cab

From stowaways to Operation Stack, it's a challenging time to be a trucker heading to and from the Continent
Kelis interview: The songwriter and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell and crying over potatoes

Kelis interview

The singer and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell
Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea