Scottish independence ‘a risky defence option’

Irwin: conference address. Picture: Andrew Milligan
Irwin: conference address. Picture: Andrew Milligan
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ONE of Scotland’s most senior military figures has said that Scottish independence is an “expensive” and “high-risk” option when it comes to defence and security.

Lt General Sir Alistair Irwin, a former Adjutant General of the British Army who served in the Black Watch, argues that a solely Scottish defence force would be insufficient to look after the security of Scotland.

Irwin will this week address an international conference on Global Security at Glasgow University. Speaking in advance of the event, he told Scotland on Sunday: “There is no doubt that Scotland could create a defence of force of its own. The question is: would that force be sufficient to play its part, with the intelligence services and the police, in the provision of security for Scotland and its interests?

“My considered view is that it would not and that the result of a vote for independence would result in both Scotland and the rest of the United Kingdom being less well defended than they both are now with the UK’s single defence and security capability.

“Whether or not this is thought to be important will depend on how much at risk we will all feel as a result.

“Given the unpredictability of events in the complex world in which we live and do business it would be a brave government that could conclude that the levels of defence and security that could be provided by an independent Scotland would be sufficient for the purpose, whether or not as part of a coalition.”

Last night a Scottish Government spokeswoman said Irwin’s claims were “wrong”.

She said: “An independent Scotland will have first-class conventional forces which will play a full role in defending the country and co-operating with international partners – but we will not waste billions of pounds on Trident nuclear weapons or take part in illegal invasions like Iraq.”