See also: NATO
|FOR THE UNION||FOR INDEPENDENCE|
Westminster states that upon Scottish independence, the national security of both Scotland and the remainder of the UK would be jeopardised. Devolution has not extended to defence since it is important to maintain one common approach for the whole of the UK.
The presence of UK defence within Scotland has a significant positive impact on communities, both through the provision of jobs and the growth of local economy. Scottish public finances could suffer as a result of independence, as the new state would have to re-configure the structure of its defence forces – this would cost an indeterminate amount of time and money. The SNP has estimated costs of up to £2.5bn in the re-design of Scotland’s forces; however this amounts to only 7% of the total UK defence budget. Scottish independence could also put thousands of shipyard jobs at risk, as it is unlikely that the UK would continue to commission warships to be built on the Clyde.
If Scotland were granted NATO membership as an independent state, it would still lose out on the benefits of its current place within the UK. Further to this, the SNP’s plans to remove Scotland’s nuclear trident do not match NATO’s basis as a nuclear alliance.
With its existing defence bases, an independent Scotland would already have the essential infrastructure, and expertise, for the redesign of its military forces. The units of the Scottish Army would retain their identities and traditions upon Scottish independence. The SNP plans to disarm Scotland of its trident by 2020, it argues that Scottish people have never agreed to the country’s ownership of nuclear weapons. Further to this, the presence of nuclear weapons has resulted in a neglect of Scotland’s other defence forces – notably a lack of maritime patrol aircrafts.
An independent defence force could impact positively on the Scottish economy. While Scotland currently contributes £3bn of the UK’s defence spending, a disproportionate £2bn is spent on the country’s forces. The SNP proposes a new budget of between £2.5bn and £3bn, which it argues would also give extra money to the country’s public services.
The SNP plans to apply for NATO membership following independence. Despite its opposition to nuclear weapons, it will join several other non-nuclear NATO members. It would be in the best interests of Scotland’s neighbours in the UK and Europe that an agreement is met regarding its NATO membership. Failure of this would result in a large gap in the security and defence of North West Europe.