Britain’s nuclear weapons could be moved to France or the United States in the event of Scottish independence, Ministry of Defence contingency plans reveal.
Several anonymous officials were cited by the Financial Times on Wednesday as saying they had been briefed on plans which could see Britain’s nuclear deterrents, currently based in Scottish ports, relocated abroad in the event of Nicola Sturgeon’s SNP winning a secession referendum.
Another option reportedly under consideration is for the UK to seek a long-term lease for the Royal Navy’s nuclear bases at their current location in Faslane and Coulport on the country’s west coast.
Such an alternative, described as the ‘Nuclear Gibraltar’ option, would create a British territory within the borders of a new separate Scotland and see the subs leased back to the UK.
Relocating within the British Isles could cost as much as £4billion, according to research carried out by the Royal United Services Institute think-tank in 2014.
Nicola Sturgeon’s SNP Scottish Government was re-elected in the polls in May’s election, with the First Minister promising a second referendum on independence.
The SNP has long opposed the UK’s nuclear deterrent and has previously called for Trident missiles not to be renewed.
However, a spokesperson for the MoD denied there were any plans to move the submarines.
The spokesperson said: “The UK is strongly committed to maintaining its credible and independent nuclear deterrent at HM Naval Base Clyde, which exists to deter the most extreme threats to the UK and our Nato allies.
“There are no plans to move the nuclear deterrent from HM Naval Base Clyde (Faslane), which contributes to Scotland’s and the wider UK’s security and economy, and its supporting facilities are safe for local communities.”