Scottish independence: Westminster ‘has not considered what the implications are for independence’ - MP

Sir Malcolm Bruce has accused British ministers of not properly considering the possibility of Scottish independence. Picture: TSPL
Sir Malcolm Bruce has accused British ministers of not properly considering the possibility of Scottish independence. Picture: TSPL
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THE implications of Scottish independence for national security have not been properly considered by the UK government, a committee said today.

• Lib Dem MP claims UK Government has failed to consider implications of Scottish independence

• Time between 2014 referendum and possible election ‘too short’

British ministers are too focused on the referendum in 2014 returning a No vote, the Joint Committee on the National Security Strategy suggests.

Sir Malcolm Bruce, a Scottish Liberal Democrat MP on the committee, said there are substantial implications for the Government to consider in the event of independence.

“They have clearly not considered what the possibilities are, what the implications are, for independence,” he told BBC Radio Scotland.

“Given we have a date, a provisional date at least, for that referendum, I think the committee collectively was surprised.

“There are very substantial implications for both Scotland but specifically for the UK Government if the UK were to break up.”

He highlighted the SNP policy of removing the Trident nuclear deterrent from Scottish waters, the future of military bases and how the newly-independent nations would co-operate on defence and counter-terrorism.

The implications of Scottish currency on the pound should also be discussed, he said.

Sir Malcolm, MP for Gordon, said: “These are all issues we would have expected them to have explored.”

The time for negotiations after a potential Yes vote in 2014 would be too short, perhaps only one year before the election of an independent Scottish Parliament, he said.

“We really need to have that debate now so that if in the event people did vote for independence in 2014 we have some idea of what is involved,” he said.

“That, indeed, might make people think about how they’re going to vote.”

The committee report, published today, is in response to the Government’s National Security Strategy 2010.

The committee published its first review in March, which the Government then responded to.

The new committee report states: “We feel that the Government has failed to engage with many of our arguments and has sought to justify the Government’s current position rather than taking the opportunity to look at how it could do things differently.”

It adds: “The Government’s response to our concerns about the National Security Council’s failure to address the potential national security impact of Scottish independence focused on the Government’s policy stance on a referendum, reinforcing our belief that the possibility that independence might actually happen is being neglected in strategic planning.”

It also found fault with the Government’s response to concerns about a shift in US defence policy to the Pacific and the security implications of the eurozone crisis.

An opinion poll published this week showed support for independence has dipped to 30%.