Alex Salmond is under growing pressure to set out his plans for Scotland’s defence forces under independence after a leading defence expert raised questions over the the SNP’s flagship policy to quit Nato.
Professor Malcolm Chalmers, the defence policy director of the Royal United Services Institute, also warned there would be significant one-off costs in building new infrastructure, training and exercising facilities.
In a paper entitled Defence In An Independent Scotland, he questions what the impact would be on Faslane, home to the UK’s nuclear deterrent, if Scotland left Nato.
Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson said: “This report shows that in a separate Scotland, Alex Salmond would prepared to rip this partnership apart, leaving us with a depleted and poorly-equipped military presence.
“The First Minister can’t have his cake and eat it. Either he chooses to uphold his long-standing aim to get rid of nuclear weapons at Faslane – a base that is home to 6,500 workers – and rip us out of the most successful military alliance in the globe or he backtracks on leaving Nato, which he has hinted he will do, and keeps the nuclear fleet.
“Senior military figures agree Alex Salmond has no clue when it comes to matters of defence.”
SNP defence spokesman Angus Robertson says the paper concludes an independent Scotland could maintain “capable” armed forces.
He said: “An independent Scotland will not have unneeded and hugely expensive Trident nuclear weapons based in Scottish waters, which will be removed in the soonest possible timescale – just as the vast majority of countries which co-operate on defence are also free of nuclear weapons, including Partnership for Peace members such as Norway, which is in Nato.”