THE SNP last night insisted that its policy on Trident removal was unchanged after Alex Salmond appeared to suggest that it could be delayed until 2016.
The SNP released a statement saying it wanted talks on moving nuclear weapons from the Clyde immediately after Mr Salmond suggested any such deal would not be signed off until 2016.
Speaking on The Andrew Marr Show, Mr Salmond suggested that the weapons would not go until a new SNP Scottish Government had been formed.
Mr Salmond said: “The time period for their removal: once Scotland became independent and after, of course, people have elected their first government in an independent Scotland, but if it were to be an SNP government then we would ask the submarines to be removed from Scotland as soon as was safely possible. And the emphasis, obviously on safety, because no one would want to compromise that in any way.”
His comments appeared to go against previous claims that negotiations over Trident would take place with Westminster immediately after a Yes vote in the September 2014 referendum.
Under the SNP’s proposals, the period between then and the election in May 2016 will be dominated by complex talks over Scotland’s currency, share of the national debt and membership of the EU.
Any prospect of Trident not being included in those negotiations would not play well with SNP activists who fiercely oppose nuclear weapons.
Last night, an SNP spokesman strongly denied there had been any change in policy. “The position on Trident is entirely unchanged,” he said. “Our view is we would like to see talks taking place on this now to help prepare for a possible Yes vote, as indeed the Westminster defence select committee recommended.
“And Trident would certainly be part of negotiations following a Yes vote. Trident could only be removed from Scotland once Scotland becomes an independent country, and SNP policy on that is clear, which is at the earliest possible safe moment.”