The SNP would “run the white flag up beside the Saltire” if Scots support independence, former Nato Secretary General and UK Defence Secretary Lord George Robertson has warned.
But the warning from the Scottish Labour grandee has come after it emerged that the UK is not taking part in a key naval exercise for Nato in the Black Sea which is taking place to send a signal to Russia over its expansion into the Ukraine.
The SNP described the lack of a British warship as “embarrassing” and said it shows that the UK is not fulfilling its obligations but trying to claim an independent Scotland would not be an effective partner of Nato.
However, the Scottish Government’s defence policy in the White Paper was also criticised by the current UK defence secretary Michael Fallon who was due to say in a broadcast interview that shipbuilding jobs in the Clyde and Rosyth will rely on Scotland staying part of the UK and warned that the break up of the union was the wrong thing to do “in an increasingly dangerous world”.
The same message was given by Lord Robertson as he joined former Scottish Secretary Jim Murphy’s street campaign to persuade voters to say No.
Speaking to the Scotsman after the event in Edinburgh’s Grassmarket, he said: “The break up of the UK now would be disastrous” and he described the SNP’s push to get rid of the UK’s deterent as “crazy”.
He said: “Just seven days ago Vladimir Putin reminded the world that he has nuclear weapons and the SNP want us to get rid of them and force a founder member of Nato to disarm, that’s just crazy.”
He claimed that Alex Salmond’s aspirations of an independent Scotland joining Nato but banning nuclear weapons and not meeting the minimum two per cennt of GDP on spending, meant it would not be welcome in the defence organisation.
He said: “The door will be slammed shut in Scotland’s face.”
On the SNP’s defence plans in the white paper to have an army of 3,500, two frigates and eight Typhoons, he said: “They would be pulling up the white flag next to the Saltire.
“To pretend Scotland would be defended is a dangerous fiction.”
He added: “We are already active in the international scene. A Scot is currently being held hostage by Isis and Glasgow airport was attacked but the SNP’s plans for defence are simply a disgrace.”
He said: “What is the SNP response to acting against Isis in Iraq with a Scot held hostage? they say we need a UN mandate which means they believe we should be governed by the Russian and Chinese veto.”
However, responding to lord Robertson’s attack, SNP defence spokesmaon Angus Robertson said: “In the week when the UK’s most recent Ambassador to NATO has said she will be voting Yes and has made clear an independent Scotland will be welcomed into the alliance, it’s worth reminding Lord Robertson that many nations of Scotland’s size and smaller play a significant role on the international stage – and he should think twice before he blunders into the debate again.
He also highlighted the UK’s lack of involvement in Sea Breeze exercise in Black Sea because the UK has not provided a ship for the maritime group since 2010.
He said: “This is hugely embarrassing for David Cameron and the MoD. Days after talking up the UK’s contribution it is revealed that they can’t even send a single warship to a vital NATO exercise in the Black Sea in response to recent Russian actions.
“To make matters worse they haven’t assigned a vessel to the NATO patrol group involved in this exercise since 2010. Instead of scaremongering about Scottish independence they should make good on what are appearing now to be hollow promises.
Westminster’s expensive nuclear weapon obsession has come at the cost of vital capabilities being stripped away with big cuts to the number of surface ships. Only with independence will Scotland get a defence force suited to its needs, one that is properly equipped with conventional assets such as Frigates that will not only protect its waters but be able to participate in these missions.”