Overhaul of armed forces massively important for Scotland, says minister

Conor Riordan, PA Scotland
·2-min read

The Scottish Secretary has said the overhaul of the UK’s armed forces is “massively important for Scotland”.

Alister Jack’s visit to RAF Lossiemouth in Moray on Tuesday came a day after Defence Secretary Ben Wallace confirmed the Army will shrink by about 10,000 troops.

As part of the plans, the airbase will become home to three early warning and surveillance E-7 Wedgetail aircraft in 2023.

Alister Jack
Scottish Secretary Alister Jack praised the defence plans (Stefan Rosseau/PA)

Mr Jack said: “It’s a lot of jobs, a lot of investment – shipbuilding, obviously, on the Clyde and the Forth – but it’s £2 billion of investment in supporting 12,000 jobs outside of the military, nevermind all the military support that we have.

“So it’s massively important for Scotland.”

Mr Wallace said the aircraft at RAF Lossiemouth are a “more capable fleet” than the current E-3D Sentry and would “transform the United Kingdom early warning and control capabilities, as well as contributing to Nato”.

The Scottish Government’s veterans minister, Graeme Dey, said he welcomed investment to the armed forces in Scotland, but added the paper “shows overall that the UK Government is considering major cuts to armed forces personnel which will most significantly affect the army”.

He claimed ministers had received no reassurances from the UK Government over promises to base 12,500 regular armed forces personnel in Scotland.

Mr Dey added: “The Scottish Government recognises the strategic importance of RAF Lossiemouth to the wider defence system, and the investment of new aircraft in creating jobs.

“However, the UK Government fails to acknowledge the importance of a military presence within Scotland’s communities through their ill-conceived plans for base closures in other parts of the country.

“We once again call upon them to reverse their decision to close bases in Scotland, given the impact to local economies and our skills base.”

Mr Jack said: “We know that there’s plenty of commitment there and plenty of jobs there linked to it.”