Press release

Moore: Scottish Government U-turn on NATO shows their claims have no foundation

Michael Moore has respond to comments by NATO confirming that if Scotland were to become independent it would need to apply for membership.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government


The Secretary of State for Scotland said:

“The First Minister has finally been forced to accept what everyone else has been telling him: that an independent Scotland would need to apply for NATO membership. The UK Government has repeatedly said that there is nothing automatic about NATO membership, it is a matter for the North Atlantic Council. NATO has today confirmed this is the case.

“The SNP’s party policy on NATO passed last year specifically states that ‘On independence Scotland will inherit its treaty obligations with NATO’. This is a major u-turn by the party on their NATO policy and it shows that their claims have no foundation.

“The Scottish Government cannot insist that membership of international organisations is “certain”. This claim also has no foundation and NATO has confirmed that no discussions have been held with them. As with the EU, the reality is that other members also have a say - and they might not agree with the SNP. On NATO, the defence policy of a nation wishing to join, including its intended budget, capabilities, missions and objectives are all factors that are considered by the North Atlantic Council.

“As the second largest contributor to NATO, the UK has great influence in the Alliance. As part of the UK, Scotland benefits by being at the top table when decisions are being taken. The Scottish Government has no credible proposals on defence and they need to explain what their cut-price attitude to security and defence would offer our Allies.

“Every time the Scottish Government is confronted with the hard evidence, they’re forced to retract their bold claims and acknowledge they got it wrong - whether it is on legal advice on EU membership or discussions with the Monetary Policy Committee. They are making it up as they go along. How many more times do we have to go through this process to establish the truth?”

Writing yesterday in the Huffington Post, Michael Moore said:

“With huge challenges facing the global economy, it doesn’t make sense to most of us to erect market barriers with our largest market and nearest neighbours – England, Wales and Northern Ireland. With a strong position in Europe, it doesn’t make sense either to have to negotiate new entry terms to the European Union, casting doubt over our opt-out from the euro. And with emerging security threats – North Korea, Iran, Syria – it doesn’t make sense to us to split up our Armed Forces and adopt a divided stance on foreign policy. I am part of the overwhelming majority in Scotland who believe we are stronger, safer and better off together within the family of the United Kingdom.

On defence, he said:

“Scots are very proud of our security alliance with you [the U.S.]. The shared experiences of two world wars and other conflicts keep our ties strong. As does the common security provided by NATO.

“The SNP perhaps recognises this with its recent, but highly conditional, support for our military alliance. Despite this move, it is a very different kind of alliance that the SNP offers its international partners. The SNP wants unilateral disarmament now, with no regard to the strategic or security issues this raises. It has yet to set out a fully scoped defence plan. We are of course challenging them on this and their cut price approach to security. But we understand that you will watch this debate carefully and with great interest, as you should.”

On the U.S relationship he said:

“The U.S.-UK relationship is one of the strongest in the world. Aside from our shared security interests, we are each other’s single largest investors – almost $1 trillion invested in each other’s economies. We see that and value that at first hand in Scotland with significant U.S. interests in our oil and gas, financial services and defence sectors. All of those companies based in Scotland enjoy the advantages of the UK’s huge internal market and our place at the top table in the EU.

“Next year’s referendum in Scotland isn’t simply a question of national pride, a Braveheart romantic moment. Of course, the nationalists do not have a monopoly on Scottish patriotism or sense of identity. But the decision in 2014 will be one for the heart and the head – and I believe that the case for the United Kingdom wins both. Scots have one of the strongest, proudest national identities in the world. But we are also proud of what we have achieved as the United Kingdom.

“America too is made up of states and people with diverse identities and origins, bound together in a Union. Each of those states is immeasurably stronger and more prosperous in the Union than it would be in its own. That is a message which, I am confident, the people of Scotland will be keeping very much in mind as the referendum date approaches.

The full text of the Huffington Post article can be found here

Statements by NATO are provided below:

What impact, if any, would Scottish independence have on the rest of the UK’s membership of NATO and its standing in the Alliance?

Were it to occur, we would not expect a declaration of independence by Scotland to have any impact on the NATO membership of the United Kingdom.‪

What criteria would an independent Scotland have to meet to secure NATO membership?

The North Atlantic Treaty, which is the legal and political foundation of the Alliance, sets out the fundamental principles and goals of membership.

Article 10 of the Treaty states that Allies “may, by unanimous agreement, invite any other European State in a position to further the principles of this Treaty and to contribute to the security of the North Atlantic area to accede to this Treaty.”

Are there any circumstances in which Scotland would not be allowed to continue in NATO?

It appears widely agreed that, as a matter of law, a Scotland which has declared its independence and thereby established its separate statehood would be viewed as a new state. In the NATO context, the definitive determination on this question would be made by the member states, acting in the North Atlantic Council.

A new state would not be a party to the North Atlantic Treaty, and thus not a member of NATO. If it were to choose to apply for NATO membership, its application would be subject to the normal procedure, as outlined in Article 10 of the Treaty.‪

What consideration, if any, has NATO given to the possibility of Scottish independence?

As this question is hypothetical, no discussions on the issue have been held and no decisions have been taken.

How would NATO regard an application from Scotland for non-nuclear membership? What is NATO’s view on the possible relocation of the UK’s nuclear weapons from Scotland? Would it be possible for Scottish membership of NATO to be negotiated between the referendum and the Scottish government’s proposed date for independence in March 2016?

All decisions on NATO membership are taken by the members of the Alliance by unanimous agreement, as set out in Article 10 of the North Atlantic Treaty. As this question is hypothetical, no discussions on the issue have been held and no decisions have been taken.

Published 10 April 2013