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The group has said allowing the UK to retain nuclear submarines in Scotland after independence could bring in enough revenue to fund a new Scottish Defence Force (SDF), a suggestion quickly dismissed by Westminster. The Scottish National Party Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament published a new paper which claimed “negotiating cards” could be played by both sides.
The campaign group, which helps influence SNP policy, aims to achieve a nuclear-weapon-free independent Scotland and is a forum for party members who oppose nuclear weapons.
In the paper, which has just been released by the group, they say the Faslane naval base which is home to the UK trident project could turn into a British “colonial possession” in an independent Scotland.
It suggests that Westminster pay a rental fee to an independent Scottish government for the two bases, RNAD Coulport and HMNB Clyde, to allow a new Scottish Defence Force to be funded.
Bill Ramsay, committee convenor wrote in the paper: “Contingency planning is a key element, indeed the bread and butter work, of all professional staff officers.
“In peacetime military staff are involved continually in planning for contingencies of all types whether likely contingencies or even sometimes the very unlikely, though less credible contingencies are overtaken invariably for training purposes.
“At the heart of such a contingency plan will be an attempt to rent these two facilities from the Scottish Government.
“Had the first independence referendum been a success such an offer would probably have emerged.
“In ‘Scotland’s Future’ the estimated cost of a future Scottish Defence Force was around £2.5 billion.”
The SNP has a long-standing policy to remove nuclear weapons in an independent Scotland but the campaign said alternatives to this position exist.
The paper said a previous £2.5billion cost of a Scottish Navy, Army and Air Force was too high suggesting the cost could be less than half that.
Mr Ramsay added in the paper: “Under these circumstances, the annual rental offer likely to be put forward by the remaining UK (to rent the naval base and the naval armaments depot at Coulport) will be close to matching the annual budget of the SDF.
“Nuclear multilateralists will argue that ‘we’ have the UK ‘over a barrel’.
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“That we should take the money for a short time, for a longer time and, for others, for as long as the UK has nuclear weapons.”
The Committee suggests that the “SNP needs to develop a policy, this side of the 2021 election so that when the SNP seek a mandate for an independence referendum that SNP policy makes it clear the SNP will not negotiate a lease on Faslane and Coulport.”
Mr Ramsay continued in the paper that Scotland: could “confidently assume therefore that the UK would turn to a more familiar and indeed tried and tested strategy to retain the bases using diplomacy.”
“The UK aim would be to ensure HMNB Clyde and RNAD Coulport merely become new additions to the many overseas military bases that the United Kingdom currently have,” it added.
The Committee is set to submit a motion which is expected to be debated at the Scottish National Party this October.
It will ask for the removal of the Trident missile system and Vanguard-class subs within three years of a “yes” vote.
The motion said: “Conference reaffirms its policy, the Roadmap for Trident Removal, as accepted in 2018.
“The conference, therefore, sets SNP policy a timescale of three calendar years after the declaration of the result of a successful Scottish independence referendum for the removal of the Trident missile system and their launch platform, the Vanguard-class submarines, as a first step.”
If it is approved by party members, it is expected to become part of mainstream SNP policy ahead of the Holyrood election which will be centred by Scottish independence.
In response, a UK Government spokesperson said: “In 2014 the people of Scotland voted to remain part of a strong United Kingdom.
“The UK’s nuclear deterrent contributes to Scotland’s security, brings economic benefits and its facilities are safe for local communities.
“There are no plans to move the nuclear deterrent from HM Naval Base Clyde.”
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