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What opportunities will independence bring to Scotland in terms of defence and security?

Independence will enable Scotland to:

  • set its own defence and security budget and maintain strong conventional defence forces to protect its people, territory, seas, airspace and national interests

  • decide, with appropriate democratic oversight and respect for international law, the circumstances in which its forces are deployed overseas

  • work closely with its partners – including the rest of the UK – to address global issues and contribute to international peace-keeping

  • build a security and intelligence agency that is fit for purpose in the 21st century and is proportionate to, and reflects a full strategic assessment of, Scotland’s needs

  • legislate for, control, and oversee national security arrangements in Scotland, ensuring the constitutional rights of the Scottish people

The Scottish Government is committed to working closely with our neighbours – especially our partners across the British Isles, our trading partners, through bilateral relations with other nations and in key international institutions such as the European Union, NATO and the United Nations.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

What security risks would an independent Scotland face?

Threats that countries face in the modern world tend to be international in nature. In common with other countries, an independent Scotland will require to work with partners to protect itself against international terrorism, cyber-crime and cyber-terrorism, threats that come from global instability and failed states, and international serious organised crime. Scotland will be able to build on the strong relationships we already have to promote security at home and abroad.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

What will Scotland’s overall defence and security policy be?

The Scottish Government’s policy is for an independent Scotland to have defence and security capabilities that will, firstly, secure our territory, seas and airspace, our people and our national interests.

In light of Scotland’s geography and interests, we will also have the opportunity to develop niche capabilities to support humanitarian operations, search and rescue, and other specialist land or maritime functions. These niche capabilities will support Scotland’s own defence needs and also contribute to international partnerships and wider global efforts to secure peace and security.

The Scottish Government proposes to create Scotland’s own domestic security and intelligence machinery sitting alongside our police service. This will see Scotland’s national security arrangements being legislated for, controlled, and overseen in Scotland for the first time.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

Can an independent Scotland afford appropriate defence and security capabilities?

These capabilities can be delivered from our planned annual defence and security budget of £2.5 billion. Comparable countries in Europe generally spend around 1.5 per cent of GDP on defence. In 2011/12, 1.5 per cent of Scotland’s GDP was around £2.3 billion. An independent Scotland will have the right forces to defend the country properly and secure us against any threat we meet, working with our partners and allies.

With independence, Scotland will actually save on defence spending. Current UK defence policy – including spending on Trident – will cost the Scottish taxpayer £3 billion a year by 2016/17, although considerably less than this is actually spent in Scotland by Westminster.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

What do you expect the implications will be for the rest of the UK in terms of defence and security?

It will be in the interests of Scotland and the rest of the UK to continue to work closely together to ensure the security of both countries. The UK will have a serious security partner in Scotland with effective capabilities meeting Scotland’s needs and playing its part within NATO.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

What defence and security assets would an independent Scotland look to inherit during independence negotiations?

Scotland and the rest of the UK will negotiate to ensure the proper defence and security of both countries from the date of independence. It will be in both countries’ interests that this should be the basis of a constructive and enduring partnership in the months and years that follow.

The priority will be for Scotland to secure the land, air and maritime capabilities – personnel and assets – that are required to protect our territory, people and national interests. This will include negotiations on a number of assets that are currently based in Scotland, as well as negotiation on capabilities that are located elsewhere, such as surface ships, air transport and other land, air and maritime equipment and expertise. The assets that the Scottish Government proposes an independent Scotland’s army, navy, air and special forces will have are set out in Chapter 6.

Scotland has invested, as part of the UK, in significant intelligence-gathering capabilities and would expect that investment to be recognised in the arrangements that will be developed.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.