Leading energy and defence figure backing Yes

Scottish independence: A LEADING figure in the UK defence industry has come out in favour of independence claiming it will release “energy and passion” but will also lead to a much needed “refresh” of the rest of the UK.

Alex Salmond pictured with Yes supporters in Edinburgh. Picture: Getty
Alex Salmond pictured with Yes supporters in Edinburgh. Picture: Getty

The intervention by Ian Godden - who was until recently chairman of Farnborough International, the company behind the Farnborough Airshow and of the UK Aerospace, Defence, Security (ADS) - comes as voters were warned by the No camp that a Yes vote will mean Scotland loses out on 50 years of shipbuilding work.

Dunfermline and West Fife Labour MP Thomas Docherty said that the decision to bring the second Queen Elizabeth class aircraft carrier into service means five decades of “guaranteed work” for Rosyth in his constituency which would go to an English shipyard if Scots vote Yes.

He said: “Whilst no final decision can be made by the Royal Navy until after the referendum and contracts are completed, Rosyth is the overwhelming choice for the deep maintenance work on the Carrier programme.

“The choice for the dockyard is clear – a secure, bright future as part of the UK or the loss of vital Royal Navy contracts if there is a Yes vote.”

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But Mr Godden, the first major defence industry figure to come out in support of independence said a No vote was one which supported “the long term decline” of the industry in Scotland.

Mr Godden, who comes from Edinburgh and is also founder and chairman of independent oil company Glenmore Energy plc and a non-executive director of the Bristows Helicopters Group, said: “I am not a fan of Alex Salmond, and certainly not of the SNP. However, having agonised over the issues, and to some extent been involved in the early stages of the Better Together Campaign over issues in defence, I am now very clear on what Scotland should do.

“In my considered view, Scotland would do better being independent. It is about time Scotland voted positively to change itself.”

Mr Godden said the idea that an independent Scotland could not do well industrially or in financial services because it was too small was a strand of No campaign propaganda.

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He said: “Nine of the top 10 wealthiest countries in the world are small - six smaller than Scotland - some with oil and gas and some with a strong social, national and/or industrial policy, such as Singapore.

“Scotland has an industrious base, a skilled workforce and well-educated population. Sweden, Denmark and the Netherlands are all wealthier per capita than the UK, as is Germany, of course.”

However concerns have been raised about independence by one of the major defence industry’s in Scotland, Thales, which employs 500 people in Govan.

Chief Executive Jean-Bernard Levy said a Yes vote would create uncertainty over investments on both sides of the border.

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He said: “It is very difficult to make any sort of predictions, (but) it is clear that if it is cut off from Scotland, the rest of Great Britain will have fewer resources to devote to defence and this will inevitably lead us to re-examine our industrial framework,” he said.

“There would be questions over the capabilities we keep in the UK and there would also be questions over the facilities we maintain in Scotland,” he said.