FMQs: Nicola Sturgeon ‘in denial’ over GERS

Nicola Sturgeon . Picture: PA

Nicola Sturgeon . Picture: PA

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The economic case for independence is now “dead” but First Minister Nicola Sturgeon remains “in denial”, opposition leaders said as they highlighted Scotland’s £15 billion deficit.

Labour leader Kezia Dugdale said the latest data on Scotland’s revenue and expenditure, published on Wednesday, had “devastated” the SNP’s case for leaving the UK while Conservative leader Ruth Davidson said the party’s “economic prospectus for independence was broken”.

The Government Expenditure and Revenue Scotland (GERS) figures revealed a deficit of £14.9 billion for 2014-15 when a geographic share of North Sea revenues is allocated to Scotland.

That amounts to 9.7% of Scottish GDP, compared with the overall UK deficit of 4.9% of GDP.

The figures also showed North Sea revenue fell from more than £10.9 billion in 2011-12 to less than £4.8 billion in 2013-14, before dropping to £2.25 billion last year.

Asked by Ms Dugdale at First Minister’s Questions if she still believes “there would be no detriment to Scotland leaving the United Kingdom”, Ms Sturgeon accused her rival of trying to “knock Scotland”, stating her party preferred the country to be run by the Tories.

She said: “The truth of the matter is countries the world over have deficits and let’s remember this about Scotland’s deficit, it wasn’t created in an independent Scotland, it was created on Westminster’s watch.

“It is a rather strange argument, I think, for any self-respecting politician to argue that we should stick with the system that created the deficit instead of taking more powers into our hands to do something about it.”

She added: “Isn’t it so typical of Labour that we hear nothing about the strong Scottish economy and the underlying strength of the Scottish economy?”

Ms Dugdale responded: “The First Minister is in complete denial, just 24 hours after her own figures devastated the case for independence.

“The economic case for independence has always been dubious but even her own former economic advisor Alex Bell tells us today it is now dead.”

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