UK pledges 500 million pounds to refurbish Scottish nuclear base
Mon Aug 31, 2015 2:34pm BST
LONDON (Reuters) – Britain will spend more than 500 million pounds ($770 million) refurbishing its nuclear submarine base in Scotland over the next 10 years, finance minister George Osborne said on Monday.
The Faslane naval base on the River Clyde, east of Glasgow, is home to the fleet of four Vanguard-class submarines, one of which is on patrol at all times, that form Britain’s ‘Trident’ nuclear deterrent.
The money will be spent on “ship lifts, sea walls, jetties and other major projects” and the work will start in 2017, the government said in a statement.
A decision on replacing the country’s ageing submarine fleet itself is due next year. Prime Minister David Cameron’s Conservative government has said it backs the fleet’s multi-billion pound renewal and intends to base the new submarines at Faslane.
The Scottish National Party, which won out of 56 out of 59 seats in Scotland in a national election in May, has long been against renewing the weapons.
Scotland’s Deputy First Minister John Swinney said the announcement of the investment on Monday was “premature” before parliament had decided on the issue of the submarine fleet.
He told BBC radio the money for nuclear weapons should be spent on supporting conventional weapons, including at Faslane, rather than on nuclear warheads.
The opposition Labour party is split on the issue. It went into the election in May committed to renewing the deterrent, but following its defeat the party may change its policy.
Jeremy Corbyn, the front-runner in the Labour leadership election, has said he is opposed to renewing Trident.
Osborne said the cross-party agreement on the need for a nuclear deterrent was at risk.
“That consensus, which is so important for our security and reliability as an ally, risks being shattered again by an unholy alliance of Labour’s left-wing insurgents and the Scottish nationalists,” he said in an editorial in the Sun newspaper.
(Reporting by William James and Paul Sandle; Editing by Mark Heinrich and Hugh Lawson)