LONDON, Oct. 8 (UPI) -- Scotland would lose out on the billions of dollars of defense spending from the British government through independence, the British defense minister said.
Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond scheduled a referendum for independence from Great Britain next year. Veterans Minister Keith Brown said Scotland has a strategic position in the North Atlantic and will maintain an effective fighting force as an independent country.
The British Defense Ministry published a policy paper Tuesday saying an independent Scotland would have to make do without the $54.6 billion annual defense budget from the British government.
"The Scottish people deserve to know what the impact of independence would be on the jobs and livelihoods of the many thousands of people in Scotland that are employed in the U.K. armed forces or in the defense industry that equips and supports them," British Defense Secretary Philip Hammond said in a statement.
The paper said an independent Scotland would have "real difficulties" in maintaining its own defense capabilities and struggle to build a military arsenal from scratch.
The British military has Trident missiles stationed off the Scottish coast. Salmond said his government would not support them once is breaks away from Great Britain.