April 4, 2013 12:01 am

PM warns over Scotland’s defence jobs

David Cameron will on Thursday make a rallying call to the defence industry to oppose Scottish independence, warning that thousands of jobs are at risk if the country decides to leave the union next year.

During a visit to a defence contractor in Scotland, the prime minister will argue many of the country’s 12,600 jobs in its £1.8bn defence industry rely on the global status enjoyed by being a part of the United Kingdom.

“Being part of the UK opens doors for the Scottish defence industry around the globe,” Mr Cameron will say.

“Scotland counts for more on the world stage because it is part of the United Kingdom and Scottish defence jobs are more secure as part of the United Kingdom.”

But ministers in London have been attacked by the Scottish National Party for their failure to protect Scottish defence jobs, especially in the armed forces.

Alex Salmond, the first minister, last month demanded an apology from Philip Hammond, the defence secretary, after the government announced far fewer than expected soldiers would return from Germany to Scottish bases.

The prime minister’s visit north of the border comes amid growing calls for him to play a bigger role in the independence debate. Mr Salmond has repeatedly challenged Mr Cameron to take part in a televised debate ahead of next year’s referendum, which the prime minister has so far refused.

Number 10 is leaving the door open to a change of heart, however, if the polls begin to turn against the pro-union campaign.

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