Scottish independence: Coalition banks on ‘No’ vote and Trident staying
THE Coalition government is not making any contingency plans for the withdrawal of the Trident nuclear-armed submarines from the Clyde, despite the possibility of Scottish independence.
A Nationalist government taking office after a ‘yes’ vote in the 2014 referendum, would almost certainly spell the end of the Trident submarines at the Faslane naval base.
But senior Liberal Democrat Sir Menzies Campbell said the Coalition is not preparing to move them south. “The assumption in government is that there won’t be a ‘yes’ vote, so no there’s no planning being done,” the former Lib Dem leader said.
“There’s a wrinkle here that the SNP position is that Trident submarines – the nuclear deterrent – must be taken out of Scotland. But I understand that what they want to do is maintain the existing Astute-class nuclear powered ‘workhorse’ submarines to continue to be based there. We also understand there was a vote to be taken this month about whether the SNP should join Nato and this has been postponed until the autumn. I think there’s some inconsistency there.”
Under the Trident programme, the Royal Navy operates 58 nuclear-armed submarine-launched ballistic missiles and 200 nuclear warheads on four Vanguard-class submarines from Faslane.
The Scottish Government is committed to the “earliest possible withdrawal” of the nuclear deterrent.
Replacing it has proved a flashpoint for the coalition, with Liberal Democrats opposed to “like-for-like” replacement and Conservatives committed to a full renewal. “The two parties came into the last general election with a slightly different position,” Mr Campbell added.
“The Liberal Democrat position was that all options had to be investigated.”
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Wednesday 19 June 2013
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