SNP ready to ‘negotiate’ moving UK nuclear subs abroad after Scottish independence

Nicola Sturgeon’s party vows to get rid of Trident ‘at pace’ in event of breakaway

Adam Forrest
Thursday 02 September 2021 19:26
<p>HMS Vigilant at Faslane naval base, which carries the UK’s Trident nuclear deterrent</p>

HMS Vigilant at Faslane naval base, which carries the UK’s Trident nuclear deterrent

The SNP has indicated that Nicola Sturgeon’s government would be ready to negotiate any proposal to move Trident overseas in the event of Scottish independence, amid reports the nuclear subs could be docked in US or France.

The UK’s nuclear deterrent could be moved abroad in the event Scotland opts for a breakaway, according to a report detailing “secret” government contingency plans.

Referring to the report in the Financial Times about the possibility of the stockpile being moved overseas, SNP MP Stewart McDonald, the party’s defence spokesperson, said: “An independent Scotland will not be home to nuclear weapons.

“Negotiating their removal will be one of the most important tasks a newly independent Scotland will face, and capitals across Europe will be looking to Edinburgh for assurance that we will be a reliable and trustworthy partner.”

The SNP frontbencher added: “Safety and security will be the top principle that informs the process of the departure – which will happen at pace.”

The Royal Navy’s base at Faslane on the west coast of Scotland is home to the UK’s nuclear submarines, but “senior officials” told the FT they could be moved to naval bases in the US or France if Scotland votes Yes in a second referendum on independence.

The newspaper also reports that the Ministry of Defence (MoD) could keep them within an independent Scotland by creating a new British Overseas Territory some have described as a “nuclear Gibraltar”.

Mr McDonald made clear an independent Scotland would not accept any proposal to keep Trident north of the border. “With a clear cross-party majority of Scotland’s elected politicians opposed to Trident, there is no possible parliamentary arithmetic that would allow these weapons to be kept at Faslane.”

The preferred option would be to move the nuclear deterrent to the Royal Navy base at Devonport in Plymouth, according to the report.

However, a spokesman for the MoD denied there are any plans to move the submarines. “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,” said a spokesman.

“There are no plans to move the nuclear deterrent from HM Naval Base Clyde (Faslane), which contributes to Scotland’s and the wider UK’s security and economy, and its supporting facilities are safe for local communities.”

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

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