Would Trident be moved from independent Scotland? Scotland could become nuclear Gibraltar

Nicola Sturgeon quizzed over 'trust' of Green Party

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Contingency plans from the Ministry of Defence reveal Britain’s nuclear weapons could be moved to France in the event Scotland goes independent, new documents reveal. Senior officials have said the contingency plans to move deterrents if Nicola Sturgeon’s plans for another referendum result in Scotland leaving the union.

The Trident programme is designed to deter the most extreme threats to the UK’s national security and is based at Clyde Naval base on the west coast of Scotland.

The papers reveal the Trident programme would have three options if Scotland voted to leave.

The first option is to relocate bases elsewhere, with the Royal Navy’s Devonport base most likely to replace Clyde.

The second is to move the UK’s nuclear bases to an allied country such as the US.

The Financial Times has reported officials also examined moving the submarine base to Ile Longue in Brittany, France.

The third is to negotiate a new British Overseas Territory within an independent Scottish state that would contain the Faslane and Coulport bases.

One MOD insider likened the third option to a “nuclear Gibraltar”.

A MOD spokesperson said the UK ”is strongly committed to maintaining its credible and independent nuclear deterrent at HM Naval Base Clyde, which exists to deter the most extreme threats to the UK and our NATO allies”.

The spokesperson added: “There are no plans to move the nuclear deterrent from HM Naval Base Clyde, which contributes to Scotland’s and the wider UK’s security and economy, and its supporting facilities are safe for local communities.”

The department’s press office later wrote on Twitter: “Contrary to a recent press report, the nuclear deterrent and the thousands of jobs which support it are staying in Scotland.”

The news comes after the SNP cemented their deal with the Scottish Greens, meaning Nicola Sturgeon now has a majority in the Scottish parliament.

Responding to the report, the Scottish Government told the Financial Times it firmly opposed the possession, threat and use of nuclear weapons and was “committed to the safe and complete withdrawal of Trident from Scotland”.

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The prospect of a Scottish referendum within the next few years is now highly likely, with both parties backing a vote within the next five-year term of a Scottish parliament – which runs to 2026.

Both parties have agreed to seek another vote on Scottish independence before the end of 2023 – but only if the threat of coronavirus has subsided.

Ms Sturgeon insisted on Tuesday that she holds an “undeniable” mandate for a second vote, with the two parties together winning 72 of Holyrood’s 129 seats in May’s election.

Boris Johnson’s Government has also softened its stance toward another vote.

Speaking to Politico last week, Scotland secretary Alister Jack suggested the UK Government could approve a new referendum if polling showed support in Scotland for staging one remained above 60 percent “over a reasonably long period,” although a time period was not given for this.

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