Scotland will not vote for independence, says Defence Secretary Philip Hammond
Mr Hammond was responding to questions on whether the MoD had made contingency plans for the nuclear deterrent in the event of a split
The prospect of Scotland voting to leave the United Kingdom in six months’ time has been dismissed by a senior Cabinet minister.
Although polls suggest support for independence is growing, Philip Hammond, the Defence Secretary, insisted his department was not planning for a “yes” vote. He delivered the uncompromising message as David Cameron prepares to open the Scottish Conservative conference today by citing warnings about the implications of independence from the European Commission, the Governor of the Bank of England and leading business figures.
Mr Hammond said the Ministry of Defence was not making contingency plans for moving nuclear submarines out of Scotland because the Government expects independence to be rejected on 18 September. The Scottish government has called for the nuclear fleet, based on the Clyde at the Faslane naval base, to be removed within four years of a vote.
Asked by reporters if the MoD made contingency plans for the nuclear deterrent in the event of a split, Mr Hammond replied: “We don’t expect the Scots to vote for independence.”
Speaking during a visit to the Vickers shipyard in Barrow-in-Furness, he said: “We are not making contingency plans.” He added: “People who have talked about rapid removal of nuclear forces from Scotland are not talking realistically. It would take many, many years and vast amounts of money to replicate the facilities at Faslane.”
In his speech in Edinburgh today, Mr Cameron will reject accusations that opponents of independence are “scaremongering” over Scotland’s future, saying he wants to “take that myth apart”.
The Prime Minister will argue: “This referendum is a major life decision, and you don’t make one of those without getting all the information you can. You wouldn’t buy a house without getting a survey done, you wouldn’t choose a car without an MoT, and you shouldn’t make a decision about changing your nation – forever – without knowing in full what the consequences may be.
“Look at who’s laying out those consequences – the Governor of the Bank of England, the President of the European Commission, business chiefs from companies like BP and Shell, Alliance Trust and RBS, Lloyds, Barclays. The list goes on. These are not political puppets, they are serious, non-partisan figures. So, the idea that these are empty warnings and political scaremongering is a myth, and we owe it to the people of Scotland to take that myth apart.”
The Prime Minister will refer to the forthcoming Commonwealth Games in Glasgow as he urges Scots to oppose separation. “When the call went out for volunteers at Glasgow 2014, more than a quarter of those who responded were from elsewhere in the UK,” he will say. “People who were happy to travel hundreds of miles, to stay with friends or relatives, to give their time for free.”
Nicola Sturgeon, the Deputy First Minister, said the Conservatives had no mandate in Scotland: “David Cameron’s increasingly ham-fisted attempts to scare the people of Scotland will fool no one.”
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