In its latest bid to derail the Scottish independence movement, the UK government is planning to strengthen a strategic air base located in north-east Scotland.
To that end, the Ministry of Defense (MoD) has announced a jobs boost for RAF Lossiemouth, which envisages the creation of 106 new roles.
According to the MoD, the contract is worth more than £230 million and is part of the deployment of Poseidon maritime aircraft at the base in Moray.
This means that RAF Lossiemouth – which is currently a base for Typhoon fighter jets – will now in addition host a fleet of nine P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol planes.
The 106 new posts are reportedly part of a broader training and maintenance contract tied to the deployment of the anti-submarine aircraft.
Defense Secretary, Ben Wallace, did not mince his words when he said the main benefit of the base’s expansion was to strengthen Scotland’s place in the UK.
Wallace went further by claiming the defense investment “challenged” the case for Scottish independence.
"[The] Defense of these isles is much better achieved collectively and together, and the strength of the union is demonstrated by the fact we can play to each others' strengths", the Defense Secretary said.
In addition, Wallace said an “independent Scotland” could not expect to receive military orders from the rest of the UK.
"If you look at their [the Scottish Government’s] economic figures, their deficit is so large I think it would be very, very difficult for an independent Scotland to maintain any type of armed forces of any credible size or capability", Wallace told the state broadcaster BBC.
But the Scottish government – which is led by the pro-independence Scottish National Party (SNP) - hit back immediately by saying the Tories had “zero credibility” on defense issues in Scotland, as demonstrated by “deep cuts” to personnel and military infrastructure.
A spokesman for Scotland’s First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, issued the following statement: "An independent Scotland will be more than capable of maintaining conventional forces, but will not waste billions of pounds on nuclear weapons".