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.”
“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:
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“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.”