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Dark clouds loom for Scotland

will Scots firms have to bid for rest of UK defence work? EU procurement rules ensure some access, but politics does play a part.

can see why Scottish defence company executives might be going through a lot of underwear just now.

A recent report by Francis Tusa in Defence Analysis magazine argued independence would mean small Scottish armed forces which would "support a far smaller workforce" and threaten the existence of several defence companies.

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Nowhere do the clouds of uncertainty caused by the looming independence referendum hang more darkly than over defence industries.

This view was dismissed as inaccurate by the Scottish Government, but a report prepared in 2010 by SQW Consulting for Scottish Enterprise backs Tusa. This scoped defence work and the wider aerospace and security sector which, they concluded, employed nearly 40,000 people in Air Max 90 Womens Fashion 842 businesses generating sales of 5.2bn a year.

They are an important if often overlooked part of the Scottish economy employing, according to Scottish Enterprise, about 12,600 people with annual sales of 1.8bn a year. Those sales and jobs, however, depend on government work, most of it coming from the UK Government, which the SNP government wants to put out of business.

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There are other unknowns. Will the SNP demand the immediate removal of nuclear weapons from Faslane or will they agree to lease the base to the UK, at least for a period of years? The naval base, HMNB Clyde, is a significant part of the Dunbartonshire economy and, assuming three of the Vanguard nuclear powered attack submarines will still be re deployed there as planned from Devonport in 2017, it will get bigger still.

Professor Malcolm Chalmers, director of UK defence studies at the Royal United Services Institute, thinks if Scotland spent 1.5 per cent of GDP on defence as Norway which also has offshore oil installations to protect does then, assuming a due share of North Sea oil production, it could have a defence budget of about 2.2bn.

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cent) of the defence budget which, excluding Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya, is stable over the next few years at about 34bn, making Scotland's share about 2.85bn. The SNP reckons less than 2bn is actually spent in Scotland.

Plus there are a lot of big unknowns. Will the SNP, in an independent Scotland, go for the socalled 'independence lite' approach of just paying a due share of UK defence costs, or aim for a separate Scottish Defence Force (SDF)? In a recent BBC interview, First Minister Alex Salmond said an SDF would allow untrammelled decision making on involvement in international engagements adding that the outcome of the UK defence review outlined what an SDF might look like. "The configuration of the army in Scotland, a mobile brigade, looks exactly like the configuration you'd want for an SDF so that's one naval base, one aircraft base and a mobile armed brigade."

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What would Scotland's defence budget be? Notionally, Scotland pays a population share (8.4 per Air Max 90 Hyperfuse Black And Red

But this is all conjecture. Right now nothing is known and even when the SNP's defence plans become known next year an awful lot of unknowns will still remain.

A summary of the SQW report (published on the SE website) includes a SWOT analysis. Based on what the companies told them, Scottish independence is viewed as a threat. To be fair, UK Government actions "Public sector budget cuts and current uncertainty over UK Government spending on defence procurement" are also seen as a threat. But if you add to that the possibility Scotland might, in effect become a foreign country to the rest of the UK after 2014, creating a national frontier between Scotland and the rest of UK defence spending you Air Max 90 Rose Gold

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