An unnamed UK Government minister’s revelation that an independent Scotland would be able to enter a currency union with the rest of the UK must be the biggest political own goal since the independence campaign started.
Perhaps I’m guilty of hyperbole; I’m not sure it surpasses the Scottish Government’s spectacular October 2012 revelation that it hadn’t even sought legal advice on an independent Scotland’s EU membership, despite repeatedly assuring voters that Scotland would automatically continue as an EU member state post-independence.
History will most likely tell us which revelation was more decisive; however, as a pro-Union supporter, I find this unnamed minister’s remarks to be frustrating and dispiriting.
I still believe that rUK would be unwilling to enter a currency union with an independent Scotland; Westminster is fanatical about the sovereignty of parliament and I could not imagine UK ministers being willing to negotiate tax and spend budgets with a foreign country.
Moreover, the thought of potentially having to bail out a profligate independent Scotland would not sit well with UK voters. However, doubts will have now arisen, even in pro-Union voters’ minds, as to whether the UK Government’s stance on currency is genuine. In politics, where trust and credibility are so important, this is particularly damaging.
That does not mean the Scottish Government’s position on currency is any better. Where there is so much uncertainty on this crucial issue, its refusal to spell out a Plan B on currency is irresponsible. It is now very likely that voters will enter the election booths on 18 September not knowing what currency an independent Scotland would use. Both campaigns should hang their heads in shame.