TONY Blair’s former spymaster has said an independent Scotland would mean the end of the UK as a nuclear power, with the country unable to find an alternative nuclear base to Faslane on the Clyde.
Sir David Omand, who was the UK’s first security and intelligence co-ordinator, as well as chief of the GCHQ base, said the cost of moving Faslane nuclear missiles to a site in England could prove impossible.
The SNP insists it would force the removal of Trident from the waters of an independent Scotland, with the base gone within two years.
Sir David issued the stark warning about Trident’s replacement in evidence to the Commons foreign affairs committee, in response to a question from Labour MP Bob Ainsworth, a former UK defence secretary.
He said: “I don’t see a feasible alternative site at reasonable cost. My fear is that it would precipitate the UK out of the nuclear business.”
Sir David went on to say it should be made clear to Scots that before any referendum that the government of an independent Scotland would be forced to cover the cost of any removal of Trident.
However, the SNP defence spokesman, Angus Robertson, insisted any resiting of Trident would be the responsibility of the UK government.
He said: “Anti-independence politicians have repeatedly tried to claim that the process of removing Trident from Scottish waters would be a problem – but now we have yet more confirmation from the Ministry of Defence that these arguments do not stack up.
“This new information reveals there are actually more authorised berths at Devonport than on the Clyde.
“It is entirely a matter for Westminster what to do with Trident, but it may well be that most people south of the Border would regard an independent Scotland as an opportunity to get rid of nuclear weapons altogether, saving £100 billion in the process in terms of the new Trident programme.”
He added: “The fact is, only a Yes vote in 2014 will empower Scotland to remove Trident as quickly as possible.”