There’s a remarkable consistency from defence experts when it comes to the question of the relocation of the UK’s nuclear “deterrent” in the event of Scottish independence. Time and again, when anyone who isn’t a politician is asked the question, they give the same answer: it can’t be done.
The latest is Sir David Omand, a man described by the Scotsman today as “Tony Blair’s spymaster”. The former head of GCHQ offered the view that “I don’t see a feasible alternative site at reasonable cost. My fear is that it would precipitate the UK out of the nuclear business”, adding his weight to an opinion previously expressed by the former First Sea Lord, Admiral Lord West and other “senior military sources”.
That opinion is curiously at odds with that of most Unionist politicians – particularly Labour ones who insist that independence would merely move Trident “a couple of hundred miles down the M74″ and therefore not make any significant contribution to global nuclear disarmament (and therefore be pointless). It’s easy to see why they would make that claim while trying to defend the Union. It’s rather harder to see why the various defence experts would have to gain from lying about it.
More remarkable still, though, is the second part of the Scotsman’s piece on Sir David, in which he’s quoted by the paper as saying “it should be made clear to Scots that before any referendum that the government of an independent Scotland would be forced to cover the cost of any removal of Trident.”
It’s a suggestion rather akin to if you’d let someone park their car on your driveway as a favour in return for them occasionally picking up some shopping for you in it. Then you decide you’d rather rip up the driveway and have a nice front garden (and get your own shopping in future), but your acquaintance demands that YOU pay to have the car towed away and to build them a new garage to keep it in.
We don’t think those negotiations would last long, do you?