Lamont hails day of truth from Scottish government on currency union

The Scottish government must set out the conditions it would be prepared to accept in order to secure its ambitions of an independent Scotland remaining in a currency union with the rest of the UK.

The Scottish government must set out the conditions it would be prepared to accept in order to secure its ambitions of an independent Scotland remaining in a currency union with the rest of the UK, according to a new report.

Following an inquiry looking at the questions to which answers are required within the forthcoming White Paper on independence to be published by the SNP administration, the Scottish Affairs Select Committee today concludes:

“We believe it is incumbent on the Scottish government to state with the greatest possible clarity in the White Paper what its intentions are with regard to the currency to be used in an independent Scotland. No economic question is more important for a new country. Of course the Scottish government is entitled to repeat that it aspires to have a monetary union with the rest of the UK. If so, we believe it must say what conditions it would be prepared to accept in order to secure such a union.”

It continued:

“We also believe it must set out clearly for the Scottish people what the alternatives are (whether unilateral use of sterling, the adoption of the euro, or the creation of a new separate Scottish currency).”

The report comes amid growing embarrassment for Alex Salmond following an admission from a senior official that the party’s plans to retain sterling cannot be guaranteed. Speaking at a conference on independence, Colin McKay, head of the Scottish government’s strategy unit, explained:

“We cannot assert as an a priori fact we can achieve a currency union with the UK, but we can set out why we think it is the best option.”

Unsurprisingly, McKay’s comments  dominated exchanges between Alex Salmond and Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont during First Minister’s Questions yesterday, which saw the first minister declaring as his cast iron position that Scotland will retain sterling if it opts for independence. Lamont declared McKay’s comments to be a “historic day in Scottish politics”, on which someone within the Scottish government “told the truth”.

Calling on Alex Salmond to outline a plan B in light of the developments, the head of the Better Together Campaign Alistair Darling commented:

“Alex Salmond’s claim that a currency union is a done deal has been blown out of the water by his own head of strategy. Yet again he has been found out.

“He now needs to come clean and tell us what his plan B is and what the true cost to Scotland will be if we lose the pound. His own Fiscal Commission told him that using the pound in the same way that Panama uses the Dollar is not a credible option. Alex Salmond needs to tell us what currency an independent Scotland would use.

“This welcome bout of honesty from the heart of Alex Salmond’s own office reveals the tension between the civil service and SNP Ministers. It is not the job of impartial civil servants to write a political manifesto for the SNP.

“It is clear that he is using taxpayer’s money as well as the civil service to peddle nationalist propaganda.”

6 Responses to “Lamont hails day of truth from Scottish government on currency union”

  1. cynicalhighlander

    Oh dear more project fear nonsense from ‘debater’ of the year, stop laughing at the back,

    Euro, Pound Sterling or Scottish Pound?

  2. Gregory Shand

    What a lovely impartial article, really demonstrating both sides of the argument and not jumping to false conclusions at all!! Overall a fine piece of political journalism..

    (If you have not caught my sarcasm yet, you are probably just as intelligent as the writer of this article)

  3. Dave Stewart

    Irrespective of how impartial or not the piece is the point still stands that the Scottish government cannot claim that Scotland can continue to use Sterling as a currency after independence without the agreement of the UK government. Either the independence campaign needs to engage with UK officials and at least work out a memorandum of understanding regarding Scotland using Sterling after independence or they need to put forward a credible plan B. Otherwise how are the Scottish people to make an informed decision.

  4. Chrisso

    But the UK govt won’t even *discuss* a currency union with a putative Scottish govt whilst it knows it can try to use the issue for unionist political advantage. Why is anyone surprised? So it’s not at all a case of refusing “to engage with UK officials and at least work out a memorandum of understanding” – UK officials won’t address the matter.

    Thus Colin McKay’s statement “We cannot assert as an a priori fact we can achieve a currency union with the UK, but we can set out why we think it is the best option” makes sense.

    Negotiations will commence after a YES result, not before – just as that will be the case for EU membership by Scotland. So when Salmond says it’s his “cast iron
    position” that Scotland will retain sterling (i.e. in 2016) if it opts for independence in 2014, he’s saying that is the correct position to take if there is a YES vote. He doesn’t want a Euro or a ‘Scottish pound’ and that is the preference of the vast majority of Scots. He is merely following the model set by Ireland after 1922.

  5. franwhi

    The point is that none of the unionist parties want a resolution to the currency debate although it is in their power to resolve it. This is a political strategy to thwart a YES vote. Dark arts indeed !

  6. uglyfatbloke

    Strictly speaking a Scottish government could use Sterling without the sanction of the BofE of the UK government, but they would have no influence of the policies that were applied by the BofE and the UK government. OTH if a UK government wanted Scotland to take on a fair share of the national debt they would have accept that the Scots would get a fair share of the national assets.
    OTH it is not at all clear that retaining Sterling would be the bests thing for either party anyway. Darling thinks it is – he has said so publicly – but his economic judgement has not been what you’d call ‘sure-footed’.

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