Pressure mounts on Salmond for currency plan b

New polling has found that a majority of people outside Scotland oppose the idea of a currency union.

As the SNP gather for their spring conference, the last conference before September’s referendum, they will do so with another cloud hanging over their flagship policy of an independent Scotland keeping the pound.

New polling conducted by YouGov for the international currency transfer service UKForex has found that a majority of people outside Scotland oppose the idea of a currency union.

The survey, which questioned people only in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, found that 53 per cent would oppose a currency union compared with 26 per cent who would support it and 21 per cent who did not know.

The polling piles yet more pressure on Alex Salmond to come up with a Plan B on his currency policy.

As he took to the Today programme this morning, his case amounted to the clutching of straws, citing a report in the Guardian last month quoting an unnamed minister as saying that a currency union would happen if Scotland opts for independence.

But such a position has become untenable given the scope and nature of the many organisations and individuals who have objected to a union.

In February the chancellor, chief secretary to the treasury and shadow chancellor all went on the record to rule out a currency union whilst the CBI has made clear the need for the SNP to come up with a “credible plan B on currency” that addresses the concerns of Scottish business about being part of an “unstable currency union”.

Also in February, the treasury took the unusual step of publishing formal advice from the permanent secretary to the treasury Sir Nicholas Macpherson to the chancellor in which he advised “strongly against” a currency union with an independent Scotland.

Speaking earlier this week to the Public Administration Select Committee as part of its inquiry on civil service impartiality, Sir Nicholas said of the letter’s publication:

“Throughout the debate on economic issues the Scottish government has sought to cast doubt on the British government’s position.

“It has claimed that we are blustering, bluffing – in effect, casting aspersions on the UK government’s integrity.

“My view in this case, and it’s a very exceptional case, is that if publishing advice could strengthen the credibility of the government’s position, then it was my duty to do it.”

Commenting on the new poll, Better Together Campaign director Blair McDougall said:

“A currency union between a separate Scotland and the continuing UK would not happen. The prime minister, the chancellor, shadow chancellor, chief secretary to the treasury and the permanent secretary of the treasury have all said it would not happen. Now it’s clearer than ever that people living elsewhere in the UK wouldn’t agree to it either. What people in Scotland need from Alex Salmond is his Plan B for what would replace the Pound – would we rush to adopt the Euro or would we set up a separate unproven currency?

“The fact that people living elsewhere in the UK would remove their money from Scotland is very worrying. Scotland can’t afford a run on its banks. This would put thousands of Scottish jobs at risk and be a disaster for our economy.

“As part of the UK we can have the best of both worlds – a strong Scottish parliament, with the guarantee of further powers, backed up by the strength, security and stability of being part of the larger UK. We don’t need to put this at risk.”

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