Nato not an issue for independent Scotland

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On 31 August you carried an open letter from General Sir Richard Shirreff giving his views on Nato, defence and security for an independent Scotland.

As the UK’s ambassador to Nato until I retired earlier this year, I draw a different conclusion from his.

I am sure that it would be in Scotland’s interest to join Nato and to continue to anchor our own defence in a wider alliance of Western democracies.

But I am also in no doubt that the other 28 Nato allies would see it in their interests to welcome an independent Scotland into Nato. No ally would wish to interrupt the integrated Nato defence arrangements in the North Sea and North Atlantic – least of all at a time of heightened tension with Russia.

A democratic, non-nuclear Scotland with strong military and technological traditions would fit naturally alongside similar Nato members in Northern Europe, and would be likely to join them – and the UK – in looking for multinational solutions to the pressures on their defence budgets.

Comparisons with Ukraine and Georgia are out of place. There is no “queuing order” for membership of Nato. Each candidature, and its timing, is considered separately on its own merits by the Nato council. I shall be voting Yes on 18 September.

I am a democrat, and believe that the geography, economy, demography and politics of our country are so distinctive that they are best served by our own sovereign government.

I nonetheless have affection for the UK, am proud to have been a British diplomat for more than three decades, and have enjoyed working with our highly professional armed forces and security agencies. Of course the closest and most important defence and security relationship for an independent Scotland would be with the United Kingdom.

It’s clear that as Scotland made the transition to independence there would be some tough negotiations over defence, nuclear and wider security questions, because there is a lot at stake on both sides.

We are already witnessing some staking out of positions.

But nothing in my long experience of British or international security makes me think that either country need emerge as a less safe place when those negotiations were concluded.

(Dame) Mariot Leslie

The shadow defence secretary Vernon Coaker trots out again the threat that if there were a Yes vote no more navy warships would be ordered from “foreign” Scottish yards.

However, Royal Navy ships are Her Majesty’s ships and she would continue to reign in Scotland as in the rest of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

S Beck

Craigleith Drive

Edinburgh