David Mundell has said that the risk of a terrorist attack in Scotland would "greatly increase" if they left the United Kingdom. The Scotland Secretary noted that an independent Scotland would reduce the strength of its intelligence services and military, providing less security for the country.
In an interview with the Independent, Mundell stressed that Scotland was safer being a part of the UK and being able to pool and share resources to prevent an attack. While some have said that terrorists would have less reason to target Scotland if they were no longer part of the UK, the Scotland Secretary dismissed the comments.
"Some very naïve arguments have been previously set out that somehow if Scotland was on its own it wouldn't be subject to any international attention or terrorist attack," Mundell said. "I just think that's completely wrong."
Mundell cited countries such Sweden and Denmark, who he said had "moral high ground", and noted how they too had been subject to serious attacks in recent times. He insisted that the "strongest reasons" for staying in the UK was that the country was able to "pull together" to fight terrorism.
"Just because Scotland was on its own wouldn't make it risk free, in fact I think it would greatly increase the risk because we just wouldn't have the same capacity as we do in the United Kingdom in terms of our security, in terms of our intelligence services and military backup."
However, the Scottish Government has hit back at Mundell's comments, accusing him of using the Paris attacks for political gain. A spokesperson for Nicola Sturgeon called on the Scotland Secretary to apologise for his "crass and insensitive comments".
The spokesperson said: "This is totally unacceptable, and the substance of his claim is also completely without foundation – independent nations large and small, across Europe and beyond, cooperate on intelligence all the time, and Scotland is no difference."
Mundell was appointed Scotland Secretary after the General Elections in May and is the only Conservative MP in Scotland. Following his comments in the Independent, the minister has received widespread criticism on social media.