The SNP and Trident

  • SNP for an independent Scotland to join NATO,
  • But SNP is also pledged to rid Scotland of nuclear weapons
  • So the Trident D5 missile carried on the UK’s four nuclear-armed submarines is now in question.

Those of you who, like me, keep a weather eye on Scottish politics will know that the Scottish National Party (SNP, no “ist”) has begun preparing for what it hopes will be a second referendum on Scottish independence from the rest of the UK, to be held apparently on 19 October 2023. Leave aside for the moment that there’s virtually no chance of that actually happening in the face of Westminster opposition and/or the eagerly anticipated Supreme Court ruling on the legality or otherwise of the Scottish Parliament holding such a referendum.

Anyway, as part of the build up to this mooted event the SNP plans a series of papers to prepare the way, under the overall title of Building a New Scotland. The first couple have been published, but the one I’m really waiting for, and looking forward to commenting on, is the paper on defence. This particular topic has long been seen as the SNP’s Achilles Heel and it’ll be interesting to see if they can present a more credible proposal this time around.

Key to the whole subject matter, of course, is the presence of the UK’s independent nuclear deterrent at Her Majesty’s Naval Base, Clyde, usually referred to as Faslane. Here the SNP have difficulty reconciling two policies; their wish for an independent Scotland to join NATO, and their wish to rid Scotland of nuclear weapons, in this case the Trident D5 missile carried on the UK’s four nuclear-armed submarines.

The US has made it quite clear that any attempt to remove the nukes from the Clyde will be met by fierce resistance, up to including blocking Scotland’s access to NATO. Against that background, there has been a notable softening in the SNP position on the independent deterrent, to the point where my long time assertion that Faslane is Scotland’s biggest bargaining chip in independence negotiations and that renting the base to the UK post-independence might bring in some much needed revenue to the fledging state.

 

We’ll see how they deal with this in their defence paper, presumably to be published before the end of the year.

 

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