The Herald

SNP defence spokesman opens door to nuclear weapons under independen­ce

- By Tom Gordon Political Editor

THE SNP’S defence policy for an independen­t Scotland appeared in disarray yesterday after the party’s spokesman said the country could still host a nuclear deterrent.

Nicola Sturgeon said earlier this month that it was her “expectatio­n and hope” that Trident would be removed from the Clyde in the first parliament after a Yes vote.

All SNP candidates at last year’s Holyrood election also pledged an independen­t Scotland would never allow any stationing or installati­on of nuclear weapons on its territory.

However, MP Stewart Mcdonald said an independen­t Scotland would not “permanentl­y” host nuclear weapons from other states but did not discount short-term arrangemen­ts.

His comments followed a row over the First Minister saying membership of the Nato nuclear alliance would be a “cornerston­e” of Scotland’s defence in a speech in Washington, DC, on Monday.

Ms Sturgeon failed to tell her American audience that it was also SNP policy to remove Trident from Faslane, potentiall­y disarming one of Nato’s three nuclear powers.

Speaking to BBC Scotland yesterday, Mr Mcdonald was asked if an independen­t Scotland would ban visiting nuclear submarines from the US or France if in Nato.

The Glasgow South MP said: “We would join on similar terms of Norway or Denmark, in that we don’t want to permanentl­y host nuclear weapons from other states, but we certainly will take our commitment­s as new members of the alliance seriously. We will be a nuclear-free member of Nato like most member states.”

Pressed, he said: “You don’t host them permanentl­y, but there are rules around the visiting of nuclear facilities, whether they be nuclear weapon themselves or just nuclearpow­ered submarines in peace time.”

Alba MP Neale Hanvey said the “soft acceptance” of nuclear weapons opened the door to Trident and its successor being hosted in Scotland for many years.

He said: “Nicola Sturgeon must set the record straight, dismiss the comments of her defence spokespers­on and make it crystal clear that an independen­t will not play host to nuclear weaponry, permanentl­y or temporaril­y.”

The SNP CND group said Mr Mcdonald’s comments suggested he no longer supported party policy on excluding nuclear weapons.

Ms Sturgeon was also criticised after saying the war in Ukraine had made it “more important” that Scotland was independen­t and played its part in global affairs.

Labour MSP Sarah Boyack called it “grotesque opportunis­m”, adding: “There is nothing Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP won’t try to exploit in the name of their single-minded constituti­onal obsession.”

Scotland in Union boss Pamela Nash added: “These remarks are utterly tasteless. It’s disgracefu­l to use the humanitari­an crisis in Ukraine to make the argument for separation, and it’s also undeniably the case that breaking up the UK would weaken the West.”

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