Trident: Carole Malone slams Sturgeon's nuclear plans
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The Royal Navy’s base at Faslane on the west coast of Scotland is currently home to the UK’s nuclear submarines. However, with the SNP verdantly opposed to the Trident missile system, Scottish independence would likely leave the UK looking for somewhere new to house the deterrent.
Nicola Sturgeon’s SNP Scottish Government was re-elected in May, with the First Minister promising a second referendum on independence.
Senior officials are reported to have said contingency plans drawn up in case Scotland leaves the UK include moving the weapons to allied naval bases in the US or in France.
But former British military servicemen have slammed the plans for putting the security of the UK at risk.
Lieutenant-General Jonathon Riley, who was the Deputy Commander of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan, said the idea of placing Trident in France “made no sense” following recent diplomatic frictions with Emmanuel Macron’s government.
He told Express.co.uk: “The option of going to France, it’s very risky to put your nuclear deterrent under the control of somebody who may not be a friend.
“With France there were naval confrontations just a few months ago.
“Are we now going to put something as important as our nuclear deterrent under their control so they can mess around with it in the same way? It doesn’t seem to make sense.”
Following a post-Brexit fishing dispute in Jersey in May, France threatened to cut off the Channel island’s electricity supply.
French fishermen also threatened to block off access to the island’s main harbour in protest, with governments from both London and Paris sending in military vessels to patrol the area.
Equally criticising the suggestions the deterrent could be moved to the US, the Lieutenant-General added: “To what extent do we now trust the US in defence terms with Biden in charge, after what happened in Afghanistan? There are risks there.”
Speaking on the condition of anonymity, a former senior naval officer told this website it would be “mad” to place Trident in the US.
They said: “A plan to base our deterrent in USA is mad, even if the US agrees, and I no longer believe that this a given under Joe Biden.
“At best it would give the US a veto over our deterrent.
“I cannot readily think of anything else which would be as dangerous to our security.”
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They added: “It will certainly undermine with the British public the notion of its independence and it may even put the skids under the whole concept.”
The remarks of the former senior military men were echoed by Conservative MPs.
Wokingham MP John Redwood described the suggestion of moving Trident abroad as “ludicrous”, saying: “It’s an independent British nuclear deterrent and it’s therefore best looked after at home.”
Wellingborough’s Peter Bone added: “The idea that we move it anywhere outside the United Kingdom is bonkers.
“You’ve got to have it within your own territory because you don’t know, you might have every good relations with another country, but you can’t know what crisis might come and you want to be in complete and utter control of a nuclear deterrent.
“It’s daft, stupid, and just doesn’t make any sense at all.”
Deputy leader of the Eurosceptic European Research Group, David Jones, said the plans were an “utterly stupid idea”.
A spokesman for the Ministry of Defence denied there are any plans to move the submarines.
He said: “The UK is strongly committed to maintaining its credible and independent nuclear deterrent at HM Naval Base Clyde, which exists to deter the most extreme threats to the UK and our Nato allies.
“There are no plans to move the nuclear deterrent from HM Naval Base Clyde (Faslane), which contributes to Scotland’s and the wider UK’s security and economy, and its supporting facilities are safe for local communities.”
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