Agreement Closer on Scottish Defence Submission

9
945


A meeting called by the First Minister Alex Salmond in an attempt at creating a united front in the battle to save Scottish defence jobs has moved closer to agreement.

Negotiations between the Scottish government and representatives of Holyrood’s opposition parties began on Monday.  However talks appeared to stall as Labour’s Iain Gray demanded that nuclear bases on the Clyde be mentioned in the submission to the UK Defence Secretary Liam Fox.


A meeting called by the First Minister Alex Salmond in an attempt at creating a united front in the battle to save Scottish defence jobs has moved closer to agreement.

Negotiations between the Scottish government and representatives of Holyrood’s opposition parties began on Monday.  However talks appeared to stall as Labour’s Iain Gray demanded that nuclear bases on the Clyde be mentioned in the submission to the UK Defence Secretary Liam Fox.

The UK Government are conducting a strategic defence review and there are fears that up to 10,000 Scottish jobs may be lost if two aircraft carrier contracts on the Clyde and at Rosyth are cancelled.

It has now emerged that the First Minister has agreed to include each parties views on the Trident nuclear weapon system in the redrafted document.

Labour and the Conservatives support the renewal of the Trident nuclear weapons system whilst the SNP and Greens remain resolutely opposed to the nuclear warheads, the Lib Dems prefer a scaled down option.  It is understood the document will acknowledge the “political differences” between the parties on Trident.

A spokesman for the First Minister said that the Scottish Government had “no difficulty” in including the Faslane naval base.  The Faslane and Coulport bases support around 11,000 jobs, however it is believed that less than 1000 are directly reliant on the nuclear weapons system.

The spokesman added:
“It was an extremely positive meeting. All sides have agreed to finalise the joint submission by the end of the week. There is a sense of urgency about submitting the strongest possible case from Scotland.”

Mr Salmond held a second meeting after the first had broken up with opposition and Union leaders attacking the draft submission.   The second meeting was also attended by Union representatives, Scottish Enterprise and Rosyth defence contractor Babcock.

The MoD’s strategic defence review is due out next month. As well as the carrier contracts there are also concerns for at least one Scots RAF base and a Royal Regiment of Scotland battalion.

The redrafted 20-page dossier also includes arguments for saving airbases in the north-east of Scotland.