UK security chief ‘has no plans for independence’

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FORMER Lothians Labour MSP George Foulkes has accused David Cameron’s national security adviser of complacency over the prospect of an independent Scotland.

The Edinburgh-based peer said he was astonished at the admission from Sir Peter Ricketts that no work was being done to look at the security implications of independence, given the SNP’s opposition to Trident nuclear submarines and its stance on Nato.

He accused the government of behaving “like ostriches”. He said: “They keep putting their heads in the sand.”

Lord Foulkes told the House of Lords he had quizzed Sir Peter, a former British permanent representative to Nato, when he appeared before Westminster’s joint committee on national security strategy.

He said: “The astonishing thing was that no work is being done, according to Sir Peter Ricketts, to look at the security implications of the increasing demand for Scottish independence.

“I raised the question about the division of oil reserves if there was a dispute on that, or if the policy of the Scottish Government was different from the United Kingdom on the deployment of Trident – as it is – and on membership of Nato. This raises some implications that ought to be thought about.”

At the committee, Sir Peter confirmed to Lord Foulkes the issue of independence and what it might mean for security had not been discussed at the national security council.

He said: “It has not arisen. If somebody wanted to bring the issue, we could no doubt discuss it, but we have not.”

Tory MP Mark Pritchard backed up Lord Foulkes, urging Sir Peter to consider the implications of an independent Scotland for the future of Britain’s nuclear submarines.

He added: “Also consider the possibility that, if there were an independent Scotland, it would be very difficult to sustain the argument – although I would try as an individual and lowly backbencher – that the UK should retain its seat on the UN Security Council.

“I think there are some potential serious foreign policy consequences not too far over the horizon for this nation, and our seat on the UN Security Council as England would be very difficult to defend.”

Afterwards, Lord Foulkes said: “I don’t think they have realised what’s going on, they don’t understand the implications. They just hope it doesn’t happen. I hope it doesn’t happen too, but you have to make contingency plans.

“The way things are at the moment I wouldn’t put the value of my house on it.”

iswanson@edinburghnews.com