Scotland politics

Scottish independence: Trident to remain short-term on Clyde, says Sturgeon

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Media captionDeputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon answers your questions on the Scottish independence referendum.

Trident would remain temporarily at Faslane while an independent Scotland's Naval HQ was being established there, Scotland's Deputy First Minister said.

In a BBC webcast, based on questions from users, Nicola Sturgeon insisted getting rid of the nuclear weapons was a matter of "principle".

Ms Sturgeon also made guarantees over pensions and reiterated the Scottish government's commitment to the pound.

Scots go to the polls next year to vote in the independence referendum.

They will be asked the yes/no question: "Should Scotland be an independent country?"

Ms Sturgeon was the latest guest in a series of webcasts focusing on issues connected to the referendum debate.

The politician said "comprehensive" detail on defence post-Yes would be produced by the Scottish government in the coming months.

Ms Sturgeon was speaking ahead of Scotland's veterans' minister, Keith Brown, appearing before the House of Commons Defence Select Committee which is examining the implications of Scottish independence.

Principled position

She told host, BBC Scotland's political editor, Brian Taylor, that it would be possible for Trident to remain temporarily at Faslane while a new Scottish naval headquarters was being built there.

Ms Sturgeon explained: "We want rid of weapons on the Clyde, but we don't want rid of Faslane. We want Faslane to be the Joint Forces Headquarters naval facility in Scotland."

She added that Trident "would go as quickly and as safely as possible" and her government would be happy to discuss with the UK government right away how that might happen.

Ms Sturgeon said her party took a principled position on Trident and it would not be used as a bargaining tool in future independence negotiations.

She said: "We would continue to have that [Joint Forces Headquarters] at Faslane as well as having Trident there while we were in the process of negotiating the removal of Trident."

Ms Sturgeon made clear: "I think CND said it [removing Trident] could take a matter of months, a couple of years at most. We are not going to be irresponsible, safety is paramount.

"These are matters we are happy to discuss right now with the UK government in order that we can give clarity around that as quickly as possible."

On the issue of currency, Ms Sturgeon said keeping the pound was the right way forward.

Image caption Ms Sturgeon said public sector pensions in an independent Scotland would be secure

She told the BBC: "It makes sense for Scotland, because of cross border trade, it makes sense for the rest of the UK, for stability for us, to remain in a currency union.

"What we would gain with independence is the fiscal freedom and the fiscal flexibility.

"I believe we should use the pound for the long term - others will no doubt argue a different position. The parties on the no side of this debate didn't all have exactly the same policy on currency."

Ms Sturgeon said she had no problem answering questions but she believed there had been "distortions of the truth" told by the campaign against independence.

The politician pointed to the forthcoming UK government paper's claim that Scottish independence would leave mobile phone users in Scotland facing higher roaming fees when they visited England.

She added: "The no campaign is starting to become ridiculous. I think scare campaigns always become ridiculous.

"We have seen some scare stories over the weekend about mobile phone charges that even their own side are calling silly."

She believed an independent Scotland's big advantage would be the fact it would get full access to all of the country's resources.

On pensions, Ms Sturgeon said: "The administration of some of the big public sector pension schemes is already under the responsibility of the Scottish government - to varying degree and varying extent we have a Scottish public pension agency that administers their [public sector] pension schemes."

She also insisted that welfare would be more affordable in an independent Scotland.

The deputy first minister agreed with First Minister Alex Salmond's view that the independence vote was a "once in a generation" opportunity.

Ms Sturgeon said she accepted polls showed the yes campaign running behind the no campaign - but her "feeling" was that it was not as far behind "as the polls are saying".

She then recalled polling ahead of the May 2011 Holyrood election when not one predicted the SNP's historic majority win.

Ms Sturgeon said that what her side needed to do was "persuade" people that "having the powers of independence are what we need to create the better Scotland I think a majority of people want to see".

She concluded the webcast by saying: "I believe passionately that a) independence is right for Scotland and, b) that Scotland will vote independent when we make that case over the next year and a bit - I believe we will win the day and I will do everything in my power to make sure that is the case."

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