UK

May: 'Independent Scotland Cannot Share UK's Security And Intelligence Agencies'

27/08/2014 21:29 BST | Updated 27/08/2014 21:59 BST
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LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 16: Home Secretary Theresa May speaks at the Conservative Party's annual Spring Forum on March 16, 2012 in London, England. Prime Minister David Cameron addressed earlier his Tory party, harkening values of past leaders as Margaret Thatcher and Winston Churchill, days before next week's Budget is announced. (Photo by Suzanne Plunkett - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

An independent Scotland would not be able to share the UK's security and intelligence agencies, and would have to "pick up the bill" for new organisations of its own, the Home Secretary has claimed. Theresa May said the UK currently spent £33 billion a year on defence and a further £2 billion a year on security and intelligence.

She said: "All countries face complex national security threats from many different sources. The UK's security and intelligence agencies help to protect us against these threats. We spend some £33 billion a year on defence, and over £2 billion a year for the security and intelligence agencies and National Cyber Security Programme.

"An independent Scotland would not be able to share these agencies. It would have to build its own infrastructure - and pick up the bill." The Home Secretary, who was speaking at a Conservative Friends of the Union rally in Dumfries, said the whole of the UK had helped make this summer's Glasgow Commonwealth Games a "triumph".

She stated: "The significant safety and security operation for the Commonwealth Games was led by Police Scotland, with support from other UK forces. There was also the less visible but vital work of MI5 and the Police Counter-Terrorist Network to keep the Games safe - just one reminder of the work they do all year round to keep us safe."

Ms May insisted that "as part of the UK, Scotland has economic security, international influence, and the best of both worlds". She hit out at the SNP, claiming in their "fervour for independence", party leaders would "say anything to make it sound easy". But she added: "If something sounds too good to be true, then it usually turns out not to be."

The Home Secretary said: "Alex Salmond has based his entire case for breaking up the UK on endless assertions that Scotland can somehow leave the United Kingdom, but keep all the benefits of membership. It isn't credible. The facts don't support it.

"And time and time again, the SNP have been caught misleading Scots about the true costs of independence. This is too important a decision to dodge questions or gloss over the tricky issues. It's an irreversible decision which will affect us all, wherever we live in the UK - and our children and grandchildren too."

A Yes Scotland spokesman said: "This is yet another example of a flying visit from a Tory minister. Instead of lecturing to Scotland, Ms May and the Tories should be prepared to debate with Yes - but as Monday's debate showed, Yes are winning the referendum arguments.

"Yet again, a Westminster politician has failed to explain why Scotland should be subjected to a Conservative government when there is only one Tory MP here. With a Yes vote, we'll ensure that we always get the governments we vote for and that we're no longer subjected to disastrous policies like the Bedroom Tax."

SNP MSP Joan McAlpine said: "This speech from Theresa May is nothing more than the greatest hits of the No campaign's scaremongering claims. It couldn't be any clearer that they simply have no positive vision for Scotland.

"And the idea that Theresa May holds the NHS up as a reason to vote No is nothing less than an insult when it is her Tory Government's privatisation and cuts agenda south of the border which is putting our NHS funding at risk. A Yes vote is our one opportunity to ensure we always get the governments we vote for - meaning no more Tory ministers like Theresa May lecturing people in Scotland."