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Scottish independence: Brown wants Hammond debate

Veterans Minister Keith Brown has called for a debate with the Defence Secretary. Picture: Neil Hanna

Veterans Minister Keith Brown has called for a debate with the Defence Secretary. Picture: Neil Hanna

SCOTLAND’S Veterans Minister Keith Brown has challenged UK Defence Secretary Philip Hammond to a debate on Scottish independence.

Brown, a former commando, has accused Mr Hammond of short changing Scotland’s defence sector, providing incomplete information on its defence capabilities and “scurrying away” from a debate during his trips to Scotland.

Meanwhile, Energy Minister Fergus Ewing has levelled a similar accusation at his UK counterpart Ed Davey, claiming he has downplayed the extent to which England would be reliant on an independent Scotland for energy.

Debate calls

Speaking at General Questions at Holyrood, Mr Brown said: “I have made a public request of Mr Hammond that rather than jetting into Scotland and then scurrying back away without answering any questions, he should stay and debate some of these really important issues.

“It seems he is unaware that Scottish taxpayers pay around £3.3 billion towards defence and get around £2 billion spent in return.”

He added: “We have contacted the MoD requesting factual information to support our consideration of the defence options that would be open to an independent Scotland.

“The MoD has been unable to provide the full detail requested.”

‘Substantial resources’

Mr Ewing said an independent Scotland would have “very substantial resources” to fund its renewable energy infrastructure, free from the costs of subsidising and decommissioning nuclear power stations.

He said: “Contrary to what we hear sometimes from Ed Davey and others, in order to maintain security of supply in England and keep the lights on in England, Scotland’s electricity which is massively in greater supply would need to be exported.

“We will fund connectors to the northern and western isles from the very substantial resources available to the people of Scotland.

“There are perhaps around a third more renewables schemes in Scotland than south of the border, but there are no nuclear power stations proposed such as Hinkley Point where the taxpayer subsidy proposed is £35 billion over 35 years nor is there a bill for nuclear decommissioning of around £70 billion.

“So I think we need to look at all parts of the equation, not just those that suit certain political parties.”

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