SCOTTISH INDEPENDENCE will not diminish the risk of a terrorist attack on Scotland by Al Qaida and will make it harder for Police Scotland to fight serious organised crime, UK security minister James Brokenshire has warned.
Giving evidence to the Scottish Affairs Select Committee the Tory minister set out to quash suggestions that Scotland would be less of a target for terrorism if it was no longer associated with UK foreign policy.
He also pointed out that Islamic extremists have attacked smaller states in Europe including Nordic countries like Sweden and Denmark which the SNP regularly suggest as a model for an independent Scotland.
He said: “I think that some people would like to think that is the case, but that is not the reality.
“If I can take the issue of international terrorism, the threat from al Qaida and Islamist-related terrorist groups does remain relevant to all parts of the UK.”
He went on: “Some have perhaps sought to characterise and say if Scotland was not part of the UK then in some way that might diminish the risk, well I certainly can not say that to the committee at all.
“When we look at some of the other European countries that perhaps the Scottish Government has sought to examine, Denmark and Sweden, they have seen terrorist activity in their countries.”
He also pointed out that Belgium is leading efforts in the EU for getting security for citizens in international hotspots such as Syria.
He highlighted the Glasgow Airport attack in 2007 as a way in which Scotland was served well by being part of the UK.
However, he identified tackling organised crime as one of the biggest risks faced by an independent Scotland because it would no longer be integrated with the security and policing services of the rest of the UK.
He said: “We simply would not be able to do things as we would at the moment, and I think that would make the job of Police Scotland that much harder in fighting organised crime.
“Not being able to pursue crime throughout the rest of the UK in the way that they do at the moment, and therefore I think it would make the work of protecting Scotland that much more difficult, and effectively put bureaucracy in place where we currently have an effective, fast-moving and dynamic arrangement potentially to ensure that criminals are pursued and prosecuted.”
But Mr Brokenshire’s comments were dismissed by the SNP as an example of “project fear” tactics by the No campaign.
SNP defence and security spokesman Angus Robertson said: “James Brokenshire’s comments repeat all the usual ‘ Project Fear ‘ discredited nonsense – but he clearly couldn’t answer questions from the Committee about how other small European countries successfully manage their security and intelligence services.
“The coalition’s record in security is hardly inspiring whether it is losing track of terror suspects or slashing police officer numbers – in direct contrast to the Scottish government’s delivery of 1,000 additional police officers.
“Anybody who has read the Global Terrorism Index report will see that the UK is currently ranked 28th in the world – not a great record. The SNP has a record of delivering when it comes to policing and security and won’t take lessons from Mr Brokenshire.”