SNP’s Trident hopes in tatters as UK ‘power’ gives it ‘economic leverage’ over Scotland | Politics | New


The Scottish National Party (SNP) recently renewed its commitment to get rid of the British Trident nuclear deterrent if Scotland becomes independent. The party, led by Scottish Prime Minister Nicola Sturgeon, ruled out last month that nuclear weapons remain in the country in the hypothetical scenario that it secedes from the UK. The SNP’s reaffirmation of its anti-nuclear stance came amid a report that the British government had made plans to create a British Overseas Territory to house Trident in the event of Scottish independence.

The Financial Times article, which cited important Whitehall sources, said officials had also considered the possibility of moving Trident from its current locations on the Clyde River to France or the United States.

The SNP presented the independence debate as a case of ‘when’ Scotland votes to separate from the UK rather than ‘if’.

Westminster should support referendum legislation tabled by Holyrood so Scots can vote on their future.

However, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has always signaled his opposition to holding a public vote on Scottish independence.

Now, an expert in nuclear weapons and politics has told that Westminster’s “power” gives it “economic power” over Scotland over independence and the Trident.

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Dr Nick Ritchie, a senior lecturer at York University, said the SNP’s options with Trident would be based in part on “power asymmetries between an independent Scotland and the rest of the UK”.

The SNP, he said, might have to compromise on its anti-nuclear stance because of the “importance” it had placed on meeting its economic demands for an independent Scotland.

He said these include: “Continuing to use the pound sterling, a fair split of sovereign debt, a fair split of pension liabilities, support – or at least not outright obstruction by London – to l ‘entry of Scotland into a whole range of international institutions’.

He added: “There is a negotiation to be had there.

“Assuming there’s a government in London that’s as determined as the Tories are now to keep Trident, then that’s one of its main negotiating cards, I think, with a future independent Scottish government.

A so-called ‘Indyref2’ would follow Scotland’s last public vote on the issue in 2014, which saw Scots reject the split with the UK.

Dr Ritchie claimed London could also thwart Edinburgh’s attempts to hold a referendum, giving it ‘leverage‘ over the Scottish government over Trident.

He added: ‘It will depend on the economy and economic relations between an independent Scotland and the rest of the UK.

“Because, to an extent, it might be a bit of biting your nose to upset your face.”

“But I think London can make life very difficult economically if it wanted to for an independent Scotland in terms of the independence process.

“Or it could make it as smooth as possible and I think that will be the negotiating position.

“You are giving us what we want in terms of a sovereign base carved out of the newly independent Scottish territory which would have the naval base on the Clyde.

“There must be a lot of other agreements around this to make the Trident submarines actually work.”

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