SCOTTISH Labour warned today that there are “significant unanswered questions” about the impact of independence on defence.
Jim Murphy, the Shadow Defence Secretary, said separation could cost “thousands” of jobs in Scotland’s shipyards as a result of lost contract.
Murphy said: “The Clyde is a working river. It has to stay open for business for generations to come, but separation would wipe it out because we’d lose the biggest order book going.”
Mr Murphy was speaking following comments made in a Scottish Sunday newspaper by ex-Royal Navy head Admiral Lord West.
The former First Sea Lord told the Sunday Mail: “If Scotland became completely independent, there is no way that what would be left of the UK would build its warships in another country.
“The Clyde yards would be entirely reliant on foreign orders from countries who don’t have their own shipbuilding industries.
“If I was on the board of BAE, I would be questioning whether there should be more investment there until we know if Scotland is going to become a separate country”.
Mr Murphy said: “Defence is a crucial industry in Scotland and we are strongest when we work together. For decades we have benefited from contracts to build Royal Navy ships. It’s the size of the Navy order book that sustains our yards.
“In good times and in bad, thousands of Scots workers including my own dad have worked on those famous ships. The aircraft carriers being built on the Clyde and Rosyth right now are the biggest in our history and almost three times the length of a football pitch.
“It’s crystal clear that if we leave Britain then we leave the Royal Navy. If we lose the Navy we lose the work in the yards. That would cost thousands of skilled jobs and many more in small companies in the supply chain.
“I don’t want Scotland to be a foreign country to the rest of the UK and the Royal Navy hasn’t built a warship in a foreign country in living memory.
“It’s time for the Nationalists to come clean. Pretending this isn’t a real and pressing risk is deeply irresponsible and treating people like fools. Instead of their games and gimmicks on a multiple question referendum they need to provide answers on how many of the jobs will be lost”.