Plan B will only lead to more austerity

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Has Alex Salmond let the cat out of the bag? His comment on BBC Radio 4sToday programme: “It’s not a question of keeping the pound, it’s a question of whether there would be an agreed a currency union”, demonstrates that both a newly independent Scotland and the rest of the UK could use the pound.

On this admission his (currently spurious) arguments that he is being denied access to a fair share of UK assets fall.

What is in dispute is a future currency union in which the rest of the UK would underwrite the economy of an independent Scotland. A future agreement on currency union cannot possibly be defined as a currently shared UK asset.

In addition, as Plan B is now to use sterling informally, then the “George tax” will never exist as both sides of the Border will conduct business in sterling. This removes any argument that the UK will incur additional costs by declining the currency union.

Of course, this currency policy provides no lender of last resort and therefore much of our financial sector would migrate south of the Border.

We would also be left without any control of monetary policy and therefore any shocks to our financial system (eg the type of annual fluctuation in oil tax revenue that we have been seeing currently) would have to be dealt with by the fiscal routes of raising taxes or cutting government spending.

If those in favour of independence dislike the current austerity measures required to cut our UK deficit – just wait!

Peter Muirhead

Kilmacolm

Renfrewshire

It was interesting to note the Prime Minister, without a sense of irony, comment that the North Sea oil and gas industry requires the “broad shoulders and deep pockets” of the UK to thrive (your report, 25 February).

Scotland’s black gold has indeed contributed to filling Westminster’s deep pockets, with billions of pounds of tax revenues plugging the black hole in the UK’s finances since it was first extracted from the North Sea in 1964.

And there is more than £1 trillion of oil and gas revenues still out there ready to be exploited.

When it comes to Mr Cameron’s “broad shoulders” it is interesting to note that just across the North Sea, Norway, a country with a population smaller than Scotland’s, does not seem to require the shoulders of Sweden or other neighbours to manage its natural resources.

It has used these to become one of the richest nations on the planet. Oslo has established an oil fund – Government Pension Fund Global – worth an estimated £471 billion as of September 2013, one of the largest in the world. This was set up in 1990, initially to help cope with the rising costs of pensions for a population that was living longer, and also accommodate changes in oil prices.

In the “Battle for Britain”, Scots should ask themselves one simple question – “why is Westminster so desperate to hold onto Scotland?”

Alex Orr

Leamington Terrace

Edinburgh

Although it may have escaped the attention of many, there is a situation developing in the Ukraine which may have repercussions elsewhere in Europe and, indeed, the world.

Russia is eyeing its smaller neighbour with concern over the potential worry of having the EU on its doorstep. There is no certainty that it may not intervene as a “friendly and concerned neighbour”, highlighting the need for all of us in Europe to be concerned about our security.

Although it is common for Nationalists to claim that unionists say Scotland is “too small, too poor and too stupid” to manage anything itself (which the latter do not), some of the former may now start to take off their blinkers and look at the real world.

Edinburgh and south-east Scotland could happily float themselves off as a separate entity. It would have healthy commercial, industrial and agricultural industries.

Its history as a separate country from Scotland (called Bernicia) could be used as justification for this.

We would be rich and would probably be considered suitable for eventual membership of the EU.

However, as in the case of an isolated Scotland, one over-riding issue would need to be addressed, even though Bernicia would have much longer expectations of prosperity than those based only on North Sea oil. That is the sensible one of security.

In an era when the Spanish are still sending warships into our waters in Gibraltar; when several EU nations blocked Kosovo’s application to join the EU and Russia is launching a war (of words, so far) against the Ukraine, does anyone with any sense think that breaking up the United Kingdom’s security forces is a sensible policy?

Alternatively, perhaps we should simply advise every Scottish household to ensure they have a white flag, just in case.

Andrew HN Gray

Craiglea Drive

Edinburgh

The coming referendum only asks whether or not Scotland should become a separate country. It does not ask if an independent Scotland should apply to join the European Union.

Despite the SNP’s claim that Scotland, because it’s already part of the EU, does not need to apply, it seems most likely that it would, although it’s not clear why a Scotland freed from one union would want to join another, indeed one with a different currency outwith its control.

Surely, before making an application, a Scottish Government would need to seek to get a mandate from its electorate, just like all the other European countries that have voted to join.

Steuart Campbell

Dovecot Loan

Edinburgh

Donald J Morrison (Letters, 25 February) states: “Ted Heath sold the Scottish fishing industry down the river to gain the UK rebate exemption” and: “Heath considered the Scottish fishing industry expendable”.

Both of these assertions would be correct if the word “Scottish” had been omitted. Mr Morrison infers that only the Scottish fishing industry suffered.

This amounts to all too common Anglophobia. The entire UK fishing industry was crucified by Heath. Just ask any Cornish fisherman.

DJ Hollingdale

Easter Park Drive

Edinburgh