BARROW-IN-FURNESS, England, March 13 Britain is
making no contingency plans for moving its nuclear forces out of
Scotland because the government does not expect Scots to vote
for independence on Sept. 18, Defence Minister Philip Hammond
said on Thursday.
Britain's submarines armed with Trident nuclear missiles are
based at the Faslane naval base northwest of the Scottish city
of Glasgow, so a vote to break the 307-year union could cost the
government billions of dollars to move the naval base.
When asked if the government had made any contingency plans
for its nuclear forces in the event of a split, Hammond said:
"We don't expect the Scots to vote for independence."
"We are not making contingency plans," he added while on a
visit to the Barrow-in-Furness shipyard in northwest England,
which makes nuclear submarines.
He said a vote for independence would usher in a complex set
of negotiations about where to base Britain's nuclear deterrent.
Scottish nationalists have said they would want to remove
all Britain's nuclear missiles from Scottish soil in the first
term of a Scottish parliament after a vote for independence.
"People who have talked about rapid removal of nuclear
forces from Scotland are not talking realistically," Hammond
said. "It would take many, many years and vast amounts of money
to replicate the facilities at Faslane."
Opinion polls have the separatists lagging with about one
third support while about half of Scottish residents oppose
ending their tie with England. But the polls have narrowed this
year and up to 15 percent of voters remain undecided.