Poll blow as Scots reject SNP currency proposals

Just days after Alex Salmond formally announced the date of the referendum on Scottish independence, the Scottish nationalist’s campaign has been dealt a blow with new polling showing a majority of Scots against their currency policy.

Just days after Alex Salmond formally announced the date of the referendum on Scottish independence, the Scottish nationalist’s campaign has been dealt a blow with new polling showing a majority of Scots against their currency policy.

Under the SNP’s plans, an independent Scotland would retain the pound, leaving the Bank of England in London to set its interest rates.

Polling out today however, conducted by YouGov for the Better Together Campaign, found that just 17 per cent of Scottish voters supported the SNP’s proposals, with over half (56 per cent) preferring Scotland to stay in a political union if the country is to remain in currency union with the rest of the UK.

Amongst SNP supporters, just 36 per cent support the SNP’s currency plans, whilst a quarter (26 per cent) support the creation of a separate Scottish currency.

Speaking in a video message posted on the Better Together website, the campaign’s leader, former chancellor Alistair Darling, pointed to the ongoing crisis in Cyprus as a reason why an independent Scotland would have to have its own central bank with control over its monetary policy.

Calling for greater detail from the pro-independence camp, he explained:

“One of the most important details is the currency we’ll use if Scotland were to become independent. The nationalists at the moment are proposing a currency union. What is a currency union? Well it’s like the Eurozone and you can see what’s going on there and all the difficulties you’ve had, of which Cyprus is just the latest example. But a currency union means that the two countries involved, Scotland and the rest of the UK, would have to agree everything.

“They would have to agree on their tax, on their spending, on their borrowing. In other words, Scotland’s budget would have to be agreed by another country – that’s not independence.”

He continued:

“And what is plan B? Suppose the terms and conditions imposed aren’t acceptable. What’s the fall back position that the nationalists are proposing? We simply don’t know…we need answers because these things are important. Detail matters.”

The poll findings come following a series of embarrassments concerning the SNP’s plans.

Deputy first minister Nicola Sturgeon last year said that an independent Scotland that retained the pound would have a dedicated seat on the Bank of England’s monetary policy committee. However the chancellor George Osborne has given clear indications that Scotland would not be allowed to retain the pound.

Speaking to the CBI last year, he argued that the Eurozone crisis showed that it was impossible to have a currency union without political union.

“It’s difficult to argue for establishing a monetary union while pursuing fiscal and political separation. In a world in which a separate, independent Scotland wished to pursue divergent economic policies, what mechanism could there be for the Bank of England to set monetary policy, as it does now, to suit conditions in both Scotland and the rest of the UK?

“As chancellor of the exchequer, I have seen no such credible mechanisms proposed by those advocating independence. I am not clear they exist.”

Meanwhile in December last year, finance secretary John Swinney was embarrassed after the Bank of England was forced to deny comments by the minister to the House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee that suggested substantial discussions existed between the Bank and the Scottish government over its plans to keep the pound.

A spokesperson for the Bank at the time explained that whilst technical questions had been answered, the Bank has “not entered a dialogue about the possibility of changing monetary arrangements for Scotland in future“.

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