Scottish Independence: Salmond Says The SNP Will Retain Defence Establishments

Salmond Says The SNP Will Retain Defence Establishments

Scotland's First Minister has dismissed criticism for saying UK Government defence cutbacks left the country with "exactly the configuration" of bases it would want.

Alex Salmond, who made the comment in a BBC interview yesterday, said today that the SNP is committed to retaining defence establishments inherited at the point of independence.

The Scottish Government previously fought to retain all three of Scotland's air force bases, but two were closed.

Salmond, who plans an independence referendum in autumn 2014, said: "I won't take any lectures from the Labour Party who have cut thousands of defence jobs in Scotland, or from the Conservative Party, who have just closed two out of three of Scotland's air bases.

"For 20 years the Scottish National Party had a commitment that we'd retain defence establishments that we inherited at the point of independence.

"We do that because that gives continuity and certainty to local communities concerned.

"I was pointing out that that was the defence configuration which we'll inherit at the point of independence, and therefore that is what we'll maintain.

"That's not hypocrisy, that's the one party which has Scotland's interests at heart."

In the BBC interview yesterday, Salmond said: "The configuration of the Army in Scotland, the mobile brigade, which is the outcome of the defence review, looks exactly like the configuration you'd want for a Scottish defence force - so that's one naval base, one aircraft base and a mobile armed brigade."

He said Scotland wants the UK's Trident nuclear missiles removed from the naval base at Faslane.

The SNP leader's vision for a Scottish Armed Forces was dismissed as "laughable" by Defence Secretary Philip Hammond.

Shadow defence secretary Jim Murphy said: "This raises huge questions about separation. Scotland knows that leaving the UK would be a huge blow to Scottish defence communities."


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