‘Scotland’s independence would diminish the overall UK defense potential’
The Scots have added a huge amount to the total UK defense capability over the years and it is extremely sad that they should even consider separating, Admiral Sir Alan West, the former First Sea Lord, told RT.
Many defense firms will move south because the amount of money available for procurement within an independent Scotland will be tiny, and these firms go where the money is, which will be catastrophic for the Scottish defense industry, Sir Alan West, who sits in the British House of Lords as Lord West of Spithead, said.
RT: Will Britain's defense force survive without Scotland's assets?
Sir Alan West: Of course it will survive. Should Scotland separate the rest of the UK will still have the defense forces. All that I would say is that if you have a single unitary force and you split it into two parts, then it inevitably costs money to set up the other part with all the admin and things like that. And it ends up less efficient, so there will be less money effectively and we are already do not spend enough on defense. We know this from private firms, when companies join up together they form one company with one bloc of admin, they don't split up it up in a lot of parts.
RT: Will the UK still be helping Scotland after its possible separation?
AW: In defense terms you are talking about would one let something happen to Scotland. Of course we wouldn’t because they are to the north of us and that sea area and air space is crucially important to us all. I think if they go the defense of our islands will be adversely affected. But of course we would fight to look after them. Exactly the same was in the WWII – we fought to look after Ireland, Southern Ireland did not really help us very much, although some people came and volunteered, but of course we defended them and they got it on the cheap. I think that is rather unfortunate. We should all pay our dues in terms of defending ourselves, and I feel depressed at the thought of Scotland breaking away. I think it diminishes us all, it is very unfortunate, in defense terms it is damaging. The Scottish have added a huge amount to totality of the UK defense and the UK defense capability over the years. It is extremely sad that they should even consider separating because it will diminish us all.
RT: Do you think the Scottish National Party has foreseen all the possible implications of Scotland’s independence?
AW: To be quite honest, I do not think the SNP really thought through in detail the implications of some things, and defense was one they have not thought through in great detail. For example, they talk glibly of the Faslane naval base still running and being as it is. At the moment the plan is for 8,500 men and women to work there, with the plans they have got they will only have about 600 there. Things like building warships - there is absolutely no way whatsoever that the UK would build its warships in a foreign country. It just will not happen. And it is no good Alex Salmond saying “You are trying to bully us” when that is a fact of life, and these implications are quite important for Scotland.
RT: In case of a yes-vote Scotland plans to get rid of UK's nuclear deterrent. How hard will it be to move Trident?
AW: Of course the UK government’s position has been that they do not think this will happen, and therefore, they are saying they are not doing work. I hope that it is not true. If I were still the Fist Sea Lord, I’ll jolly well would have been doing some work. The cost of re-deploying the Trident ballistic missiles submarines and the weapons is huge, particularly if you are trying to do it very quickly. There are places you can send them in the long-term but would the rest of the UK be willing to spend extra money that involved to do that, and I am not sure they would. The move of the nuclear attack submarines can be done relatively easily. The big jetty that supports some is easily movable, we could tow that down to Devonport and they can run from Devonport. But the ballistic missiles submarines are a very different case.
RT: Do you think various companies specializing on defense production will stay in Scotland or they will move somewhere else?
AW: There is no doubt whatsoever. I have talked to the heads of some big firms that have small offshoots in Scotland, they will all move south because the amount of money available for procurement within an independent Scotland will be tiny, and these firms go where the money is. So there will be no shipbuilding on the Clyde, it will do very little warship work. The firms that do things like periscopes, or special auxiliary machinery, the work that has been done for some Typhoon fighters – all of that will come south. It will be a catastrophe for the Scottish defense industry. Maybe the SNP do not mind that, maybe they think they can do other things. But they should be honest and point out that this is the case in terms of the defense industry, and they should explain how they are going to absorb those people in other forms of work. I do not think they have done that, I do not think they are being completely honest with the Scottish people. I was educated up there and I lived up there for many years, I don't even get a vote. The whole thing is extraordinary, if you ask me.
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