The activity on the Scottish Devolution front is ramping up, lots of news to digest on the political front but this, the Secretary of State for Defence weighed in with an uncharacteristically forthright response to Alex Sammond and the Scottish National Party.
The key themes for the SNP are easy enough to spell out - Scotlandwould not be a member of Nato and would be nuclear free. It would retain its army regiments, though the scale of any airforce or navy has yet to be detailed.
Its hard to see how Scotland would retain its Army regiments when the basic truth is they cannot recruit enough to fill them now, nothing at all to do with those nasty men in Whitehall disbanding historic regiments out of spite.
The UK armed forces are a highly integrated and very sophisticated fighting force. The idea that you can sort of break off a little bit, like a square on a chocolate bar and that would be the bit that went north of the Border, is frankly laughable.
On the Trident basing issue
You get them all or you get none of them. That is the simple logic with submarine bases. It would be an enormous exercise to rebuild the facilities that are at Faslane. It would cost billions of pounds and it would take many years. And obviously the cost of doing that would be factor that had to be taken into account in any reckoning on Scottish independence, if that is the way it goes
Trident is arguably one of the more serious subjects with Scottish devolution, the fluff about passports and banknotes is all very amusing but the nuclear deterrent is no laughing matter.
With reports that the MoD is actually making contingency plans for being politely asked to leave Scotland in the aftermath of full Scottish independence the scale of the problem must surely be prompting many to think about the cost. The replacement for Trident and the Vanguards was always going to be expensive, but a complete move of the fixed infrastructure is going to create significant additional costs and time delays to an already under pressure programme.
Its not as if we have a huge list of options either, from a force protection, space and manpower perspective the choices are limited. This is before any planning permission and tussling with the Greens and Lib Dems commences.
That said, its perhaps not a bad thing for this to be thrust into the public debate, the sheer cost of the system warrants discussion. Maybe the Liberal Democrats see devolution as a way of achieving their aim of nuclear disarmament.
The Scots can’t have their cake and eat and whilst I think we are stronger together, if independence is the will of the people, who is anyone to stop them, they just should not be expecting any favours.