There is a lot of uncertainty about independence – too much for my liking – but one thing did become clearer as I watched the BBC’s Robert Peston uncover some facts about the whole process on Monday night.
Chief among them was the fact that Scottish borrowing would be, according to Pimco, about 1 per cent more expensive than for the rest of the UK and for much of the developed world.
This is a simple consequence of having no track record of borrowing. This means an independent Scotland would have to be at least 1 per cent more productive with its use of its borrowed money than its competitors.
This may not seem a lot but it is a significant position to have to achieve in the short to medium term, at least. The evidence that we could do this, particularly if we lose key industries and employment, is hard to see.
That we would have to borrow money is not in doubt. Despite the SNP’s insistence on a currency union, its distinct tack is to set borrowing levels much higher than for the rest of the UK, adding to the extra cost of debt repayment (an IOU to Westminster).
It’s a bold move, but potentially a ruinous one too. This is one of my worries – a government that has its heart set on union knowing that its first action would be to make that union unviable. Where is the sense in “the only sensible option” that the SNP talks about?
For the record, I am as patriotic a Scot as you will find, despite my desire to preserve the union.