If Scotland votes to leave the United Kingdom in September, there would be major challenges for the national security of both Scotland and the rest of the UK. The size and scale of our armed forces means the UK is considered a partner of choice by many countries around the world, delivering a geopolitical influence that few states of similar size to ours can match.
This high level of strategic influence and engagement provides access to billions of pounds worth of military and intelligence capability.
The UK is a permanent member of the UN security council and has an extensive and longstanding network of bilateral defence relationships, most prominently with the United States and France, but also with numerous other countries across the world.
Also, when it comes to NATO, the cornerstone of our defence policy, the Scottish government has some explaining to do. Until recently they still claimed that, in the event of independence, Scotland would inherit the UK’s treaty obligations and rights.
But as the UK government’s analysis papers showed, if the Scottish people vote for independence, Scotland would be a new state. It would have to build its own relationships, and apply for membership of international organisations.
The SNP has turned its back on decades of opposition to NATO – they now want to join. But Alex Salmond’s anti-nuclear rhetoric does not stack up to the reality of being part of NATO. Under article 10 of the NATO treaty, every member has to accept the alliance’s nuclear first-strike policy. Therefore, an independent Scotland’s application to NATO would surely by hindered by the SNP’s determination to close down the Trident nuclear submarine base at Faslane on the Clyde.
Currently, British forces are strategically structured and positioned, not on an arbitrary national level, but on military logic for the best possible protection to the UK as a whole. When it comes to the defence of our skies, for example, military radar and radio equipment in the Outer Hebrides and Aberdeenshire enable the Control and Reporting Centre south of the border at RAF Boulmer in Northumberland to control our quick reaction alert Typhoons to deal with incidents and intercept potential aggressors long before they reach the UK.
Scotland’s defence is best served by being part of the UK; and that defence of the UK as a whole benefits from Scotland’s positive contribution as part of it.