SNP’s Angus Robertson Blasts RAF Base Closure

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The SNP’s defence spokesman Angus Robertson has launched a withering attack on the Conservative – Liberal Democrat coalition after today’s announcement that RAF Kinloss is set to close after UK ministers cancelled orders for the new Nimrod aircraft.

Speaking on BBC Radio Scotland Mr Robertson claimed that the people at RAF Kinloss were paying the price for a decision that he said was more about “bean counting” than about strategic defence.

Mr Robertson argued that the base should have been kept open and pointed out that most of the money for the Nimrod had already been paid.  Nine of the MRA4 surveillance aircraft were due to be based in Moray.

A clearly very angry Mr Robertson then sent a defiant message to London Ministers who have yet to make any announcement on the future of nearby RAF Lossiemouth, home to Tornado squadrons.

The SNP MP warned the coalition that a closure of the second base would have very serious political repercussions for the two London parties north of the border and suggested any such act would be an act of political recklessness.  The SNP MP said that it would amount to a 25% reduction to uniform service personnel in Scotland.

Mr Robertson said:
“There are Ministers who are very alive to the fact that were both bases to be closed that would constitute a 25% cut in the uniform service personnel in Scotland.

“That kind of decision would be politically reckless, it would of course be economically damaging to Moray.  It would not make strategic sense either, but I think politically devastating for the Conservative and Liberal Democratic parties.”

The SNP MP said that closing both bases, given the job losses already suffered under Labour, would constitute “shocking and shabby” treatment of Scotland.  Mr Robertson welcomed the news that the carrier contracts had been saved but said that it had been a shame that the Scottish media had not given as much attention to the air-bases.

Mr Robertson ended the interview by pointing out that currently Scotland has proportionally less uniformed servicemen than the Irish Republic.  He also attacked those who suggest that an independent Scotland would have fewer defence jobs.

Mr Robertson said:
“If I have to hear once more people saying; an independent Scotland – what would it be doing about defence?

“I’ll tell you something for nothing, we would have a hell of a lot more than 10,000 troops which is what the UK currently has in Scotland at the present time and I hope Ministers in London are listening and if they think about that for two seconds they’ll realise they should not shut RAF Lossiemouth.”

Listen to Angus Robertson here:

However reports this evening suggest that hopes for the other potential base for the Tornado squadron – RAF Norfolk – are optimistic and if accurate, this could spell the end for Lossiemouth.