Nicola Sturgeon’s independence dream could cost Scotland £10bn from UK

Nicola Sturgeon is a 'political opportunist' says Dan Wootton

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Former adviser to Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Dominic Cummings, has claimed that senior SNP figures have “made quietly clear” to the UK Government that they would be happy if a referendum on independence didn’t take place before 2024. Mr Cummings suggested Nicola Sturgeon “just wants to be boss up there and whinge” instead of being serious about holding a re-run of the 2014 vote on independence. The First Minister has consistently said she wants to hold a referendum “Covid permitting” by the end of 2023 and told her SNP national conference last month that she will set out her plans next year.

But while the SNP have been determined in their pursuit of independence, economists have warned at various points that secession would not come without big challenges.

In August, economist John McLaren told The Times that Scotland’s deficit would need to be addressed prior to independence.

He said: “The scale to which Scotland benefits from being part of the UK public finances is around £10billion, although the degree to which this will need to be reduced for any such deficit to be sustainable on an ongoing basis is much less certain. A fair guess would be that at least half of it would need to be covered by raised taxes or reduced spending.”

In August, figures released in the Government Expenditure and Revenue Scotland (Gers) found that the Scottish deficit stands at 22.4 percent.

Spending increased by 21 percent during the year, reflecting the impact of the pandemic, while average public spending per person also rose to £1,828 above the UK average.

Andrew Wilson, a former SNP economic adviser, also warned his party in August that there would be a risk of “capital flight” – money leaving the country – if Scotland went independent.

He also said Scotland shouldn’t change currency too soon.

Mr Wilson also warned that the party had to be truthful in recognising that moving from the present arrangements to independence, as Brexit had shown, would not be “simple”.

He said: “It is going to be hard work but it will ultimately be worth it.

“We want to manage for both the economic and political uncertainty that would come if we were going to move too quickly on currency. The risk would be that the currency would come into being and then quickly devalue, which would be most people in the markets’ expectation.

“That would have an effect on people’s income if they were waged in sterling, it would affect people’s pensions and mortgages. It could be upside, it could be downside; the key thing is it would be uncertain — and the thing we want to manage for is the risk of money leaving the country, capital flight which for a new nation is a major risk.”

Earlier this year, Tory MSP Stephen Kerr told that independence would be “devastating” for Scotland.

He said: “Independence would be economically devastating for Scotland, over 60 percent of everything we make ends up being sold in the UK.

“Ms Sturgeon would be intent on making a customs border at Berwick or Carlisle. It would be outrageous, it would impoverish Scotland.

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“Even their own growth commission, Andrew Wilson is one of their own MSPs, he did a report on the economic impact of independence which was buried by the SNP.”

In September, Ms Sturgeon promised she will provide a detailed plan for how Scotland’s economy will function as an independent state.

She said: “I can confirm that the Scottish government will now restart work on the detailed prospectus … The case for independence is a strong one and we will present it openly, frankly and with confidence and ambition.”

Ms Sturgeon’s announcement follows eyebrow-raising remarks by one of her economic advisers, who said that it could take decades to stabilise Scotland’s economy from disruption in the event of a “yes” vote a second independence referendum.

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