💥 EXCLUSIVE; The UK has drawn up contingency plans to move Trident from Scotland to US or France in the event of an independence vote. Another option is to seek an independent British territory within indy Scotland.

Scoop with @helenwarrell @MureDickie on.ft.com/3DCdrOK
Several senior Whitehall officials told the FT the UK would face very difficult options on its nuclear subs in the event of Scotland breaking away from the UK.

Option one is to move Trident to HMNB Devonport, which @RUSI_org estimates would cost £3-4bn.

on.ft.com/3DCdrOK
But Devonport is located next to one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world. And officials fear that the structure of the continental shelf means the Vanguard submarines wouldn't be able to dive as quickly, making them more susceptible to tracking.

on.ft.com/3DCdrOK
Option two is to move the Trident base to an allied country, either Kings Bay, Georgia in the United States (where American subs are based) or Île Longue in Brittany (where French subs are located). But both options would be somewhat politically difficult

on.ft.com/3DCdrOK
Option three would be to negotiate a new British Overseas Territory within an independent Scotland for "several decades", containing the Faslane and Coulport bases, dubbed by one insider as a “Nuclear Gibraltar”.

on.ft.com/3DCdrOK
MoD says there are “no plans” to move Trident out of Scotland. “The UK is strongly committed to maintaining its credible and independent nuclear deterrent at HM Naval Base Clyde." They declined to comment on contingency plans for a Scottish breakaway.

on.ft.com/3DCdrOK
The “Nuclear Gibraltar” option is preferred by some in Whitehall as the most realistic, not requiring immediate changes to the Trident programme.

But it would likely face strong political opposition from the SNP, which has long backed nuclear disarmament

ft.com/content/2e73ab…
There’s a historical precedent for having a British naval base in a foreign country. In 1921 Winston Churchill negotiated use of three naval bases in Ireland after the war of independence. But 17 years later, Ireland demanded them back in run up to WW2.

ft.com/content/2e73ab…

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More from @SebastianEPayne

8 Sep
NEW: Ministers and officials are braced for ‘catastrophic’ end to Universal Credit uplift next month.

Government’s internal analysis suggests homelessness and poverty will rise and food bank use will soar. But insiders say no U-turn.

ft.com/content/ea096a… via @financialtimes
One well-placed Whitehall official on ending the £20 a week uplift:

“The internal modelling of ending the UC uplift is catastrophic. Homelessness and poverty are likely to rise, and food banks usage will soar. It could be the real disaster of the autumn”

ft.com/content/ea096a…
One minister agrees: “There’s no doubt that this is going to have a serious impact on thousands of people and colleagues are really worried, I think it will definitely eclipse social care as a political problem. It’s not just red wall MPs.”

ft.com/content/ea096a…
Read 6 tweets
7 Sep
🦠 Britain’s approach to the pandemic has become see no Covid, hear no Covid, speak no Covid.

Boris Johnson hopes to avoid further measures with vaccine passports but can he win the argument with the Tory party and beyond?

Latest @FinancialTimes column ft.com/content/f82929…
@FinancialTimes Whitehall is focused on how to get through the winter, but there's "almost zero chance" of October lockdown.

If the situation worsens, Johnson would first try everything else: mandatory masks, then social distancing, then limits on indoor gatherings.

ft.com/content/f82929…
Vaccine passports are the govt's most immediate tool, deemed discriminatory by some, common sense by others. They clash with conceived notions most Britons hold about their relationship with the state, but Johnson is still pushing ahead regardless.

ft.com/content/f82929…
Read 5 tweets
5 Sep
Will Boris Johnson reshuffle his Cabinet this week? Opinion among ministers and Conservative party is split tonight.

One senior No10 official says they are not “expecting” a reshuffle in the coming days, which is not a full denial. It might or might not happen 🧐
Some Cabinet ministers think the talk of a rapid reshuffle is an “old trick to keep people in line on this tax stuff” - the impending plans for social care reform.

One senior minister: “Trying to do this before the spending review would be very difficult in practice”
But another member of the government said they think it could happen very soon because Johnson wants a refresh before the Tories meet in Manchester. “If not now it won’t happen before conference….so I think it could be on.”
Read 6 tweets
31 Aug
👨‍🦳 Westminster needs our past prime ministers. At a time when grey hairs are desperately lacking in British politics, our former premiers should be encouraged to stay on as MPs - ala Callaghan, Heath and May.

Latest @FinancialTimes column on how and why on.ft.com/2V4AiRC
Theresa May has found life away from frontline politics fulfilling. Her interventions on Afghanistan, foreign aid, the role of the NSA and overriding the Brexit trade deal have all resonated. Partly because she’s the only ex PM still in the Commons.

on.ft.com/2V4AiRC
The honourable reason for quitting the Commons is to avoid undermining one’s successor. After Margaret Thatcher was brutally booted out of office, she was criticised for being a backseat driver. When Cameron left in 2016, his public reasoning was the same

on.ft.com/2V4AiRC
Read 4 tweets
18 Aug
Boris Johnson opens today’s House of Commons debate: “the sacrifice in Afghanistan is seared into our national consciousness.”
Johnson denies a failure of British intelligence in Afghanistan. “The collapse is even quicker than the Taliban expected “
Johnson spoke to Sir Laurie Bristow, the UK’s man in Kabul this morning: “the situation has stabilised since the weekend but it remains precarious…the Taliban are allowing that evacuation to go ahead.”
Read 5 tweets
15 Aug
NEW: Boris Johnson is expected to delay a much-awaited govt reshuffle until after COP26 and the worst of the pandemic is over.

"The sense now is there won’t be a reshuffle after COP because Alok will need to be found a job and the PM is very fond of him"

ft.com/content/218298…
Allies of the PM say “it is more likely to be new year than before”, adding he's nervous about creating new enemies.

"The chief whip is telling him any reshuffle risks creating a set of equally annoying but potentially more effective [Tobias] Ellwoods"

ft.com/content/218298…
Ministers tipped to go upwards/return: Michael Gove, Anne-Marie Trevelyan, Simon Clarke and Conor Burns

Those going sideways: Jacob Rees-Mogg

Those maybe going down: Gavin Williamson

ft.com/content/218298…
Read 5 tweets

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