LONDON: Britain’s national security could be weakened if Scotland votes to leave the United Kingdom next year, the British government said yesterday.
An independent Scotland would also be less able to protect itself, a government report said. The intervention, part of the government’s campaign to keep Scotland inside the United Kingdon, feeds into an emotive debate which Britain’s three main parties think they are winning.
Opinion polls suggest only a third of Scots back independence ahead of a vote on September 18, 2014. Prime Minister David Cameron’s ruling two-party coalition and the opposition Labour party strongly oppose Scottish independence and fear a “Yes” vote could dilute Britain’s global clout and imperil its Scotland-based nuclear deterrent.
The report said it would take an independent Scotland a long time to build up its own security infrastructure and that would directly affect the security of what was left of the United Kingdom. It was also have only a fraction of Britain’s security budget at its disposal to do so.
“In the meantime the risk would be of security levels diminishing to the detriment of both Scotland and the continuing UK,” said the report, presented by Home Secretary (interior minister) Theresa May in the Scottish capital, Edinburgh.
Without proper planning and investment, an independent Scotland would also be less able to protect Scotland against threats from everything from international terrorism to cyber attacks, it said, saying such a situation would “result in an increased risk to the Scottish people.”
The “Yes Scotland” campaign, led by the Scottish National Party (SNP), wants independence to be a reality by 2016 after next year’s referendum. It has tried to tap into an emotive cocktail of historical rivalry, opposing political tastes, and a perception that the British parliament in London does not nurture Scotland’s interests, but has so far struggled to boost its support. reuters