SCOTTISH independence could lead to "unilateral nuclear disarmament" for the rest of the UK or mean Britain's nuclear weapons being based abroad for many years while a suitable site in England is found, a Labour MP has claimed.

Ian Davidson, the Labour chairman of the Commons Scottish Affairs Committee, made the claim after the group visited Faslane yesterday, the home to the UK's nuclear deterrent.

The committee is looking at implications for the UK's defence and its defence industry should Scotland become independent. The SNP has made clear it wants to see nuclear weapons removed from the Clyde as soon as possible should Scots back independence.

Mr Davidson said: "We have been told Faslane's facilities could be replicated at an existing English naval base but the Royal Naval Armaments Depot at Coulport is unique in the UK. It could mean that effectively the UK's nuclear weapons will be based in a foreign country for many years. There are also of course huge cost implications of making such a transition.

"Unilateral nuclear disarmament could be imposed upon the rest of the UK by a separate Scotland."