Sturgeon warned SNP would be little fish in big European pond with ‘crazy’ Scots army plan

Scotland 'worse off' with independence says Alister Jack

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Sir Michael Fallon who served as Defence Secretary under former Prime Minister David Cameron claimed the Nationalists “hadn’t yet started to think this through” properly. In the SNP’s 2014 White Paper for Independence, the party said they wanted to work towards creating a total of 15,000 regular and 5,000 reserve personnel in the decade following separation across land, air and maritime forces.

But Sir Michael said a separate Scottish defence force would be “small-scale” and would “undermine” the success and power of the British Armed Forces. 

He said: “Britain has the strongest defence forces in Europe and is the fifth-biggest defence power in the world.

“That strength and power, second only to the United States among the democracies, is for the common good. 

“And it’s only possible because Scotland and England together, with Wales and Northern Ireland, are so much more than the sum of their parts.”

Sir Michael also slated the Nats’ most recent defence paper, a submission to the Integrated Review of Foreign and Defence Policy in 2020, which calls for a greater focus on “regional security in the High North”.

The SNP paper restated the party’s opposition to Trident in an independent Scotland and the creation of an ambassador for “hybrid threats” who would tackle political influence as well as banning Under 18s from serving in the armed forces and joining NATO.

Sir Michael said the plan didn’t include “a single costing for the hundreds of millions of pounds involved in the dismembering” of the UK armed forces north of the border. 

In a direct question to the Nats, he said: “That is the question that the separatists must answer: would all this be really worth it if the result is a much less safe Scotland than today?”

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The Tory grandee, who served as Defence Secretary between 2014 and 2017 said an independent Scotland would “minimise its role and influence in the world” if it pulled out of UK defence bodies. 

He hinted that separation would make Scotland small in Europe stressing they would “reduce itself to the likes of Slovakia and Slovenia.”

Sir Michael highlighted the increasing threats from Iran, China, North Korea and Russia and made clear independence “would play into the hands of our adversaries” whom he suggested, “wish us harm.”

The Tory politician, who left frontline politics in 2019, added: “There’s no pricing in the SNP’s policy for the millions to be spent on re-organising and re-basing each of our Armed Forces.”

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He claimed the SNP hadn’t considered the impact on “employment and Scottish industry” stressing tens of thousands of jobs in defence would be at risk. 

The politician concluded in his submission for the book ‘Strength of the Union’: “Morally this is very different from any economic argument. 

“Some Scottish voters could indeed choose to risk becoming poorer, at least in the short term, in return for the perceived gains of independence. 

“But to decide wilfully to make Scotland less safe – at a time when the threats to our security are agreed to have significantly increased – would be perverse.”

The UK Government says defence supports 10,000 jobs across Scotland with £1.75 billion spent north of the border annually.

Ministers have also recently signed several top deals in Scotland bringing a job boost for the UK and the Scottish economy.

A contract worth over £230million for the RAF’s Poseidon Maritime Aircraft fleet was signed with Boeing Defence UK creating more than 150 UK jobs at RAF Lossiemouth in July.

Elsewhere, five Type 31 frigates will be built on the Firth of the Forth for the Royal Navy at an average production cost of £250million per vessel in a boost for UK shipbuilding. 

A UK Government source added: “The SNP’s plans for defence are crazy.

“From Nato membership to Trident, they don’t add up and would certainly devalue the UK on the world stage.” 

In response, SNP Defence spokesperson Stewart McDonald said Scotland’s future defence strategy would be based “on being a good North Atlantic neighbour and playing a strong role in regional security”.

The Glasgow South MP said the strategy would help to “properly tackling complex and dynamic threats such as disinformation and climate change which represent some of the biggest security challenges we collectively face.”

“As they continue to slow-march us into another catastrophic Winter of Discontent, Conservative Members of Parliament should perhaps think twice before trying to offer public policy advice to others. 

“The UK Government’s antiquated approach to defence does not stop with their cuts to the Armed Forces: with not one of the recommendations in the Russia Report having been implemented yet, Westminster’s inability and unwillingness to deal with the modern threats that Scotland faces has been laid bare for all to see.”

Strength in Union was compiled by West Aberdeenshire MP Andrew Bowie and the Centre for Policy think tank and features contributions from a range of Tory politicians.

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