John Swinney: £500m Faslane plan ‘wrong priority’

DEPUTY First Minister John Swinney today said that the £500m of spending on Faslane to prepare for the next generation of Trident nuclear weapons is the “wrong priority”.

The massive upgrade at the Clyde naval base which houses the submarine-based system was unveiled by Chancellor George Osborne today.

Mr Swinney also said it was an attempt to “stir up” the divisions in the Labour party over the UK’s nuclear deterrent.

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The United Kingdom parliament has yet to vote on whether there should be a renewal of the Trident, although it is widely expected to be passed.

The Deputy First Minister said the announcement today was a “precursor” to the confirmation that Trident will be renewed.

“We think that’s the wrong priority, we think there should be a full democratic debate about that point and that the United Kingdom government should not be spending money in advance of taking what we think will be a decision that will determine defence priorities for a very long time indeed,” Mr Swinney told BBC Radio Scotland today.

He added that “many people” in Scotland have a “fundamentally different moral and strategic argument” about whether to renew Trident.

The finance secretary said the announcement was an attempt to “stir it up within the Labour party, to be blunt, to try to exacerbate some of the stances taken by Jeremy Corbyn.”

“Scotland’s sole Labour MP Ian Murray has also made it clear he would not vote for the renewal of Trident so there’s plenty of people in the Labour party not supportive of Trident renewal,” Mr Swinney added.

There are also growing concerns of the erosion of conventional defence forces “year after year”.

“There are now 10,000 fewer conventional defence personnel in Scotland than there were at the start of this century,” he said.