The Herald

The breakup of the UK will damage Scotland, Britain and the special relationsh­ip

- STRUAN STEVENSON

ALL political parties that remain in power for too long suffer the same inevitable fate. They run out of ideas. They become tired and drained of energy, flounderin­g around in a hotbed of incompeten­ce, sleaze and scandal, trying to cling on to power by passing bad legislatio­n. Convinced after years in office of their sole right to rule, they display arrogance and contempt for the parliament­ary process.

Is all of this familiar? Look no further than the SNP government at Holyrood. Their 14 years in power descended into vicious infighting. Scotland’s economy now faces post-pandemic meltdown and yet the SNP government’s focus is on holding another independen­ce referendum, while the First Minister and her immediate predecesso­r continue to tear lumps out of each other.

It is not only the people of Scotland who should witness this spectacle with trepidatio­n. Joe Biden must be pacing the Oval Office in alarm. If the SNP succeeds in breaking up the United Kingdom, it would be a geopolitic­al catastroph­e, not only for Scotland and the UK, but also for the United States. The SNP would destroy, at a stroke, the UK’S diplomatic and military capability in the internatio­nal arena, depriving the US of one of its most important and longstandi­ng allies.

The SNP have made it clear that following independen­ce they would draw up a written constituti­on that would ban nuclear weapons from Scotland. Nuclear submarines that carry Trident strategic missiles would be banished from Faslane. The Trident missile storage facility at Coulport would be closed. More than 8,000 jobs would be lost.

But where would Britain’s nuclear deterrent go? The MOD has examined alternativ­e sites in England and concluded they all have very serious drawbacks. Not only would the expense of transfer stretch the post-pandemic defence budget to breaking point and involve additional risks, it would require enormous political will to overcome inevitable strong local opposition.

So, if Scotland became independen­t, the UK would find its nuclear deterrent in disarray. The UK’S permanent seat on the UN Security Council would be challenged by hostile incumbent members like Russia or by emerging powers like India. The UK’S role and position in the global order would be queried. Scotland, the UK and the US would be the losers. Global powers hostile to the UK and US such as Russia and China would be the winners.

The crunch impact of partition to the Scottish economy would also raise serious questions. Because of our large land area and sparse population, we spend £15 billion more annually than we raise in tax. The shortfall is made up in fiscal transfers from the Treasury in London and that’s before we take account of the additional £11 billion in pandemic aid paid to Scotland by Chancellor Rishi Sunak. There would be no more fiscal transfers or emergency aid after partition.

According to Tim Rideout, convener of the SNP Currency Group: “Scotland will be introducin­g its own currency within a couple of months of Independen­ce Day.” Abandoning sterling for the Scots pound would result in a sharp drop in currency value of up to 30%, devastatin­g savings. The creation of our own Central Bank would take years to attain credibilit­y in internatio­nal markets and would cost billions. An independen­t Scotland would have to cut the public sector to the bone. The SNP government would have to impose eye-watering levels of taxation. Spending on schools, hospitals and services would be hammered. Mortgages and council rents would soar and pensions would plummet.

Post-partition Scotland would be adrift on a sea of debt, desperatel­y looking for help and the great fear is that such help could materialis­e from Moscow or Beijing, both of whom have shown again and again that they are more than happy to purchase influence with cash. They are also more than willing to undermine the West at every opportunit­y.

If China offered to invest billions in new port facilities in Faslane and Coulport after the departure of Trident, it would be hard for a bankrupt Scottish government to resist. We’ve seen the Chinese do the same in huge port acquisitio­ns in Sri Lanka and Djibouti. A major Chinese presence in Scotland would blow a perilous hole in America’s North Atlantic defence umbrella.

An independen­t Scotland would also drive a stake through the heart of the UK-US special relationsh­ip, which has been the cornerston­e of post-second World War global alliances. The SNP government would quickly align themselves with leftist EU socialist-green factions, abandoning the Anglo-saxon social and economic model, which has served our country well for more than 300 years. The European left is hostile to America and once again, Scotland, the UK and the US would be the losers, while Russia and China would rub their hands together in glee.

Given the very real dangers to America posed by Scottish independen­ce, Joe Biden must urgently evolve a new chapter in UK-US relations. He has already sounded credible warnings about Northern Ireland and how Brexit could undermine the Good Friday Agreement. He needs to turn his focus to Scexit and begin a policy of strategic lovebombin­g that demonstrat­es his personal commitment to the future of Scotland, the UK and the Western alliance.

The people of Scotland will be warmly receptive to Joe Biden and will give him a fair hearing. Biden can build on that solid platform by coming to Scotland in person on his first state visit to the UK. He should not hesitate to remind us that the United Kingdom represents the greatest grouping of nations the world has ever known and that in war and peace, in prosperity and in time of economic hardship, America has no better friend and no more dependable ally than the UK and nothing should ever be done to undermine that relationsh­ip.

Given the dangers to America posed by Scottish independen­ce, Joe Biden must evolve a new chapter in UK-US relations

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 ??  ?? President Joe Biden in the Rose Garden at the White House; Chancellor Rishi Sunak, and HMS Valiant, one of the UK’S nuclear submarines
President Joe Biden in the Rose Garden at the White House; Chancellor Rishi Sunak, and HMS Valiant, one of the UK’S nuclear submarines
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