No plan to axe Faslane base after a vote for independence

The UK government has signalled that it has not drawn up contingency plans to move Trident out of Scotland in the event of a Yes vote in a second independence referendum.

The Faslane base on the Clyde ,home to Trident nuclear submarines. Picture: Danny Lawson/PA Wire
The Faslane base on the Clyde ,home to Trident nuclear submarines. Picture: Danny Lawson/PA Wire

According to Philip Dunne, the minister in charge of defence procurement under David Cameron, has said the UK government remains “fully committed” to Faslane, the defence base on the Clyde where the nuclear missile is based.

Mr Dunne made his comments ahead of next week’s Trident vote in the House of Commons that will see the SNP underline its commitment to getting rid of the weapon from Scotland.

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Nicola Sturgeon has said a second independence referendum is “highly likely” following a Brexit vote which saw Scotland vote to Remain but the UK as a whole vote to Leave.

Mr Dunne was asked if the UK government had made contingency plans to rehouse Trident outside Scotland if Ms Sturgeon’s bid for independence was successful.

Mr Dunne replied: “The people of Scotland voted to stay in the UK when they had the last referendum. We are not anticipating there will be another referendum.

“We are committed to Faslane and to investing hundreds of millions of pounds in Faslane to allow it continue to operate safely.”

Asked if there was any contingency plan during the 2014 independence referendum, he answered: “No.”

He added: “Defence is a responsibility of the UK government. The UK government includes Scotland for defence purposes. There is no plan at the moment for another referendum.”

Mr Dunne said alternative locations had been looked at in the past, but added that Faslane was the best option for Trident.

On Monday MPs will vote in the House of Commons on the government’s plans to renew Trident.

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The Conservative majority will ensure the government defeats SNP opposition with the support of some MPs from Labour, which is split on the issue.

Trident supporters point out that 11,000 jobs on the Clyde are linked to the nuclear weapon.

The new Prime Minister Theresa May has warned that it would be “sheer madness” to give up the nuclear system in the face of threats from Russia and North Korea.

Mr Dunne also said it was wrong to suggest public opinion in Scotland was entirely opposed to the deterrent.

SNP defence spokesman Brendan O’Hara said: “It is obscene that Theresa May thinks the priority at a time of Tory austerity and economic uncertainty following the EU referendum is to spend billions on outdated nuclear weapons that we do not want, do not need, and could never use.”