UK would want independent Scotland in NATO otherwise Scotland could be exploited

IndyRef2: Malcolm Chalmers discusses NATO

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Prof Malcolm Chalmers of the Royal United Services Institute told it is vital Scotland does not become a “vulnerable northern flank” of the UK in the event of becoming an independent country. He explained a number of reasons – from UK military bases to secure borders – meant it was absolutely vital that the country remained within NATO and kept a harmonious defence relationship with the UK if it went solo.

Prof Chalmers said: “The UK provides the entry key to NATO and I think the UK would want Scotland to be a member of NATO because the UK would not want a vulnerable northern flank as it were which could be exploited by other powers.”

He went on to explain how as well as preventing a vulnerable aspect of the UK opening up, ensuring Scotland remained in NATO was important for the UK in order for it to maintain military bases in Scotland which he said would be much less problematic.

He added how a large part of the British RAF is based in Lossiemouth which provides a key base to send out patrols over the North Sea and North Atlantic which regularly sees incursions by Russian planes.

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Professor Chalmers stressed: “It is very much in the RAF’s interest to remain in Scotland with lots of other facilities as well.”

He added how Lossiemouth could become a NATO base as well as a UK base where both Norweigian and US airforces could operate from which would be beneficial for security relationships and NATO security as a whole.

The defence expert went on to analyse the different security outcomes and possibilities that would occur if Scotland went independent, describing how it was important, from a security point of view, that an “acrimonious” breakup of the union was avoided.

He speculated: “You cannot exclude the possibility that a very acrimonious referendum followed by a deterioration in relationships between the two countries on the political and economic level then lead to the defence relationship increasingly being called into question because of that broader bad blood.”

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Prof Chalmers went on to draw parallels with the Brexit negotiations adding how lessons can be learnt from how the UK parted ways with the European Union adding how the country ended up with a form of Brexit that is “harder than most people felt would be likely before the referendum took place.”

But he acknowledged how it is more likely that the security relationship between the UK and an independent Scotland would be a benign one.

He said such a relationship would likely reflect the “benign model” that is seen with Canada or New Zealand which continue to have very close security relationships with the UK.

But he stressed how the “bad end of the spectrum” would be one in which it was a much more radical separation.

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He warned such circumstances could be similar to those that surrounded the partition of Ireland.

NATO was founded in 1949 by twelve sovereign nations: Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

It has since grown to 29 Allies who each took an individual and sovereign decision to join this Alliance.

Prof Malcolm Chalmers is the Director-General of the Royal United Services Institute.

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