Defence ‘burden’ on finances

The UK government believes that establishing a Scottish military in the event of independence would put a substantial burden on public finances.

Scottish independence: Post-Yes defence ‘will put burden’ on public finances

The UK government believes that establishing a Scottish military in the event of independence would put a substantial burden on public finances.

The claim appeared in the latest Coalition analysis paper prepared by UK civil servants.

The Scottish government proposes a £2.5bn defence force if there is a “yes” vote next September.

A spokesman said an independent Scotland would have first-class conventional forces.

Meanwhile the BBC has seen an internal Ministry of Defence (MoD) briefing document on Scottish independence.

It raised concerns about the effect a “yes” vote would have on England, Wales and Northern Ireland, saying the debate matters because of the potential effect of Scottish independence on “our politics, our economy, our standing” – referring to the rest of UK.

The document also suggested that about 500,000 votes could “swing the result” of the referendum “either way”.

Defence Secretary Philip Hammond has been promoting the UK’s current defence set-up during a speech in Edinburgh.

Ahead of that address, he spoke to BBC Radio Scotland’s Good Morning Scotland programme during which he said current British military staff based in Scotland may not want to join a Scottish Defence Force in the event of independence.

He added: “Neither the Scottish or UK governments can compel individuals who serve in these regiments to become part of a Scottish defence force.

“Those young men and women join the British Army, Royal Navy, Royal Air Force, they join because of its size, its capability, the opportunity for overseas services and training, its reputation in the world.

“Many of these men and women may choose not to join a Scottish defence force whose avowed purpose is primarily home defence.”

The Scottish government’s Veterans’ Minister Keith Brown was also interviewed on Good Morning Scotland.

He told the programme that Scotland’s defence personnel numbers were at an all-time low and that an independent Scotland should have 15,000 regular armed forces with 5,000 reservists.

Mr Brown added: “Some of the people will be employed doing different things. We have a different set of needs, for example we have no capability now in terms of the maritime patrols, we don’t have a major Royal Navy surface vessel in Scotland any more.

“We no longer have the patrol that we should have for Nato purposes and otherwise on the northern flank of Scotland or in the air, so we would have different requirements, there is no doubt about that.”

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Source: BBC.

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