Scottish independence: Moving Trident 'could cost billions'

Angus Robertson calls for "technical discussions" ahead of next year's independence referendum

Moving nuclear weapons from the Clyde after Scottish independence would cost billions of pounds and thousands of jobs, according to the UK government.

It said it had no plans to review the future of the Trident missile programme ahead of next year's referendum.

The statement came in response to the Commons Scottish Affairs Committee report on the impact of independence.

The SNP said Trident's Faslane base had a bright future as a centre for conventional and not nuclear weapons.

The Faslane site currently employs 6,700 military and civilian workers with that figure due to rise to 8,200 by 2022.

MPs say that it is for the Scottish government to explain how the quality and quantity of such jobs would be matched if Trident were relocated.

The SNP leader at Westminster, Angus Robertson, said Faslane had a good future as the base for an independent Scotland's conventional naval forces, rather than as a repository for Trident nuclear weapons, which the people and parliament of Scotland did not want.

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What prompts Ian Davidson's concern that the topic is being sidelined? The answer, of course, is politics”

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He added: "One of the biggest benefits of an independent Scotland will be the ability to remove Trident from the Clyde. Scottish public opinion and a majority of the members of Scotland's parliament are strongly opposed to nuclear weapons being based in Scotland and only a yes vote in 2014 can guarantee Trident's removal.

"Just last month Defence Minister Phillip Dunne made it clear in a parliamentary answer to me that there is enough room at the Devonport yard to base Trident there.

"Ironically, the UK government is content to dump Trident nuclear weapons near Scotland's biggest city, but is unwilling to station them on the south coast of England - for safety reasons."

But the chairman of the Scottish Affairs Committee, Ian Davidson, said the UK and Scottish governments must be more open about what would happen to Faslane in the event of a yes vote to independence.

His committee concluded that the coalition should be making contingency plans ahead of the referendum.

Speaking to BBC Radio Scotland's Good Morning Scotland programme, Labour MP Mr Davidson said: "The UK government isn't being entirely open with us - it is quite clear that they are making contingency plans - that is prudent management.

"We want the UK government and the Scottish government both to be open about as much as possible on this and on other subjects in order that the people of Scotland can make the bests possible choice."

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