Scotland 'can't afford' to remain in UK says Ian Blackford
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The news comes as the First Minister launches a new campaign to gain independence for Scotland through a second referendum. Yet, with Scotland being a major location for British-wide defence assets, the notion of an independent Scotland without backing from London may deter global organisations from embracing new membership from an independent state. Speaking exclusively to Express.co.uk, an expert specialising in security and defence matters unveils the hurdles Scotland faces on a military scale.
Political commentator Stuart Crawford said: “I have predicated all my writings on the topic of Scotland defence on the premise that initially at least, independent Scotland will not be able to afford or sustain a full military spectrum capability.”
Mr Crawford continued by explaining how a Scottish Defence Force may be able to perform.
He added: “Therefore, it will have to specialise in its military forces and hope/trust that allies can fill the gaps.
“For example, Scotland would neither want nor be able to afford high-end capabilities like submarines, fast jet fighters, tanks, attack helicopters etc to mention a few.
“Therefore, I don’t think that Scotland could defend its borders independently and would need help, in the early days at least.
“As for the whole NATO/Trident issue, I was told explicitly by a very senior US diplomat some time ago that if an independent Scotland insisted on the removal of the SSBNs from the Clyde then the US would block any aspiration for an independent Scotland to join NATO.
“The obvious solution is for Scotland to lease the Faslane submarine base to the UK until such times as a new home for the UK’s nuclear deterrent can be found/built.”
Mr Crawford was then asked what an independent Scottish military may look like, and how it would play a role across the international arena.
He replied: “I think that the focus of the Scottish Defence Force (SDF) would be regional rather than global, with the option to contribute in a small way to global military operations in coalition with others.
“In 2018 I was suggesting a navy of some 20 hulls and approximately 2,500 personnel, an air force of roughly 50 aircraft and UAVs and 2,000 personnel, and an army of approximately 6,000 personnel, totalling with an allowance for headquarters to around 11,000.
“Richard Marsh (economist) and I thought the Scotland annual defence budget might be between £1.1billion and £1.3billion per annum, which is significantly less than the SNP’s declared £2.5billion.”
With Scotland exposed as an independent nation, at least on an initial basis, Mr Crawford explained the risks Scotland would face alone.
He stated: “It’s difficult to see what a credible military threat to Scotland might be.
“The only thing it has going for it really is its geostrategic location vis-a-vis the GIUK gap and the presence of the UK’s deterrent at Faslane.
“I think the more interesting question might be what effect an independent Scotland with a much diminished military inventory might have on the security of the UK.
“I have argued that in addition to the lease of Faslane the government of Scotland (which may well not be formed by the SNP) should lease the Lossiemouth air base to NATO/RAF, which would be mutually beneficial to an independent Scotland and UK.”
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Finally, Mr Crawford explained the notion of Scotland joining military alliances such as NATO or even the rest of the UK.
He concluded: “I can’t see why not. If it fulfils the joining parameters of either or both NATO and the EU.
“Plus a close military alliance and understanding with the UK would be essential.”
For more stories like this, follow Express.co.uk Defence and Security Correspondent James Lee on Twitter @JamesLee_DE
Ms Sturgeon, during a recent visit to the United States, explained Scotland would need to join NATO if it became an independent nation.
During a speech with Nancy Pelosi, Ms Sturgeon stated that Russian aggression toward Ukraine and new members seeking to join NATO would mean Scotland would follow suit.
She said: “Two of Scotland’s northern neighbours, Sweden and Finland, which for decades have remained outside NATO, now seem firmly on track to join the alliance – and with a level of public support that would have been unthinkable just a few months ago.
“That is highly relevant to Scotland.
“The party I lead, the Scottish National Party, decided in 2012 that if Scotland becomes independent it should seek membership of NATO.”
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