Blow for anti-independence campaign as MoD look set to reverse troop re-deployment plans


  By G.A.Ponsonby
The Ministry of Defence are planning to scrap proposals that would have seen thousands of army jobs coming to Scotland.
In a move that will be a blow to the anti-independence Better Together campaign, a Sunday newspaper has reported that plans by the MoD for a so-called “super garrison” at Kirknewton, outside Edinburgh are expected to be shelved.

According to the Sunday Times, army chiefs are set to scrap the plans that would have led to thousands of soldiers being posted near the Scottish capital.  The newspaper reports that the MoD are advising the UK government to abandon the plans, which were initially announced by former Defence Secretary Liam Fox.

Under Mr Fox’s proposal, five brigades returning from Germany would have been re-located to central Scotland, this was reduced to three this summer by new Defence Minister Philip Hammond.  However the MoD is now urging the UK government to instead re-locate the troops to Salisbury Plain in southern England.

Speaking to the Sunday Times, Angus Robertson, the SNP defence spokesman, said: “The MoD is backtracking on its promises to Scotland before even making the basing announcement.

“A promise was made to build a major new barracks, retain bases, have a new training area, establish a multirole Army brigade and substantially raise troop numbers in Scotland.

“This promise followed disproportionate spending and personnel cuts in Scotland as well as plans to end the RAF presence at two out of three bases.

“Westminster makes bad defence decisions for Scotland and it is high time to improve things and make the right choices in Scotland. To do that we will need a Yes vote in the 2014 independence referendum.”

Any shelving of the plans will come as another blow to the No campaign which last week was left reeling at the news that one of the UKs three shipbuilding yards looks set to be closed by BAE Systems because of cuts to UK defence spending.

Two Scottish yards on the Clyde at Govan and Scotstoun are vying with a base in Portsmouth as each hope to avoid closure.

Speaking to the newspaper, a spokesman for the Better Together anti-independence alliance said: “Scotland is much safer and stronger within the UK.  The separatists’ plans would absolutely decimate the armed services.”