The Telegraph are reporting today that the Westminster government after a Yes vote in the Scottish Independence Referendum will be willing to pay any price to keep Coulport, the navy base where the submarines are loaded with nuclear missiles:
MoD insiders believe that, after an independence vote, ministers in London would have no choice but to strike a deal with Scottish leaders allowing the Navy to go on using Coulport and Faslane until an alternative was ready.
That would give Scotland’s new government bargaining power over other issues like their share of the UK national debt and other financial liabilities.
“Maintaining the deterrent is the first priority for any UK government, so ministers in London would have to pay Salmond any price to ensure we kept access to [the Clyde bases],” said a source. “It would be an unbelievable nightmare.”
I’ve no doubt that an independent Scotland will want to get rid of the nuclear warheads eventually, but even just delaying the move by ten years might be worth quite a lot when the Scottish and RUK negotiation teams are discussing North Sea oil, the maritime border, ownership of the Bank of Scotland and the Royal Bank of Scotland, and other contentious issues.