Transcript of an Oct. 8 speech in Edinburgh by Philip Hammond MP, UK Secretary of State for Defence
Thank you Alistair, and thank you to Selex ES for kindly hosting us this morning.
I wanted to make this speech here at one of the key defence industrial sites in Scotland because, over the next 11 months, it will be vital that people in Scotland understand fully the implications for Scottish jobs and for the Scottish economy of the SNP’s plans for independence.
And I hope that companies in the defence sector, large and small, will contribute to the referendum debate with factual information to their employees and the wider community.
So that they can make their voices heard, because thousands of Scottish jobs in defence depend upon Scotland remaining a part of the United Kingdom.
Back in March, I came to Edinburgh and set out many of the arguments in favour of retaining the Union and they still hold true today.
I also analysed, in that speech, what little the nationalists had put forward in the way of plans for Scotland’s defence and security under independence.
I made a series of assertions which fundamentally undermined the nationalists’ case.
I was expecting a furious rebuttal in the next morning’s press.
No response. No attempt to rebut. No case to make.
And seven months later, having raised those vital questions and challenged the SNP to come clean on their plans I had hoped to be able to engage today in a detailed debate about the future security of the Scottish people.
But instead of coming forward with detailed, costed and credible proposals to fulfil that first duty of government, the SNP have been culpably silent on the issue.
Less than a year before the Scottish people go to the ballot box to take one of the most important decisions in the history of Scotland, the SNP’s plans remain insultingly vague, a two page wish list that is neither costed nor credible.
The security of the Scottish people is too important to be ducked and dodged.
Perhaps they think that if they don’t engage in the debate, it will go away.
Well, I’ve got news for them: we think it matters, even if they don’t.
And we are determined to force a public debate on these important issues.
So, today I am publishing the most comprehensive analysis to date of the potential consequences of Scottish independence on the UK’s approach to defence and on Scotland’s future security and prosperity.
At the heart of the paper is the argument that in defence, scale matters.
The size and resources of the UK armed forces, generated from the whole of the United Kingdom, and backed by the fourth largest defence budget in the world, gives Scotland:
-- a far higher level of security and certainty
-- a much greater degree of international influence
-- and sustains countless more jobs in industry than would a separate force serving Scotland alone.
And not only Scotland would suffer.
The proud traditions of our armed forces are traditions shared by all the nations of the UK.
And no nation has greater cause for pride in its contribution to the UK armed forces’ achievements in defending democracy and protecting these islands than Scotland.
The rest of the UK would be poorer without it.
As Defence Secretary, I am clear that the nations of the United Kingdom are stronger, safer and more secure together than we would ever be apart. (end of excerpt)
Click here for the full transcript, on the UK MoD website.