There was a suggestion a week or two ago that Wales could gain the dubious privilege of hosting Trident if the Scots vote for independence. It was described as Wales being the ‘winners’; not the sort of thing that I’d call much of a ‘victory’, although in the light of the St Athan debacle, I don’t doubt that there’d be plenty of politicians queuing up to welcome such a move.
I’m not over-worried about it though – I just don’t see it happening. Firstly, it depends on the Scots actually supporting independence. Much as I’d like to see such an outcome, I still have a feeling that the result of the First Scottish Independence Referendum will be a ‘no’; albeit by a closer margin than many supporters of the union are expecting. Given the multi-billion pound cost of relocating the base, it’s not going to happen before a ‘yes’ vote.
But let us suppose that it does happen. The top brass in the MoD will then be faced with deciding whether to site any new base in England or in Wales. I can’t believe that, having seen the base kicked out of one departing country, the idea of putting it into another country where there is also a movement seeking independence, no matter how weak, is likely to come anywhere near the top of the MoD’s list.
For sure, they won’t state that as their reason, and there’ll be a Welsh site on the list for consideration before the carefully chosen experts come out with all sorts of practical reasons why the Welsh site isn’t the best one. It’s the way they work.
However, an American Peace Institute came out with a much more helpful suggestion today. They propose that if the Scottish base has to be closed, then the UK should be seriously thinking about nuclear disarmament, rather than relocation. That would mean that it isn’t only Scotland which would see a significant dividend from becoming an independent state. England and Wales could get one too.