A former Nato general secretary has warned that defence jobs in the north of Scotland could be at risk if people vote for independence.
Lord George Robertson, an ex-UK defence secretary, said people in Moray – home to an army barracks in Kinloss and air base in Lossiemouth, must think “very carefully” about the economic impact on the region before they vote.
The Scottish Government has set out in its white paper on independence that it will negotiate to keep a share of the UK’s existing defence assets and plans to base at least 12 Typhoon jets at RAF Lossiemouth.
But Lord Robertson, a Labour Party grandee, claimed the SNP’s defence blueprint for a new state were “half baked and not a substitute for serious thinking”.
He said he agreed with General Sir Richard Shirreff, Nato’s former deputy supreme allied commander in Europe, who branded the proposals “amateurish”.
But SNP defence spokesman Angus Robertson said many nations of Scotland’s size and smaller played a significant role on the international stage.
The MP for Moray said the UK’s most recent ambassador to Nato Dame Mariot Leslie said an independent Scotland would be welcomed into the alliance.
Reflecting on a “yes” vote, Lord Robertson, who led Nato between 1999-2004, said: “The whole of the defence industry in Scotland is going to come under question.
“People in Moray and other areas dependent on defence need to watch very carefully, the jobs are in danger.
“To propose having twelve Euro fighter and 3,500 regular soldiers is not really serious at all and the knock on effects are bound to be very big and will have implications for bases.”
Lord Robertson said to try and reorientate 12,500 existing defence jobs towards a smaller force was “not sensible and does not add up”
Pointing to the Lockerbie bombing and attack on Glasgow Airport, he said Scotland was as vulnerable to attack as many other countries.
Angus Robertson said successive UK Governments have reduced military personnel in Scotland from 25,000 to just 15,000 in recent years.
“That reduction is totally disproportionate to the military cuts elsewhere in the UK yet Lord Robertson tries to lecture us that this mismanagement is in some way a benefit,” he added.