ALISTAIR Darling has said that the people of the rest of the United Kingdom should have a say over whether they enter a currency union with an independent Scotland.
The No campaign leader said it was “almost certain” that the pro-Union parties would go into next year’s General Election with manifesto commitments ruling out a currency union and even raised the prospect of a referendum on the issue.
Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme, Mr Darling was responding to remarks made earlier by Nicola Sturgeon when she suggested that it would not be necessary for the rest of the UK to be given a say on the currency question because it would continue to use Sterling.
Mr Darling said: “Nicola Sturgeon, an hour ago on your programme, said the rest of the UK would have no right - should have no need for a referendum to decide whether or not they want a currency union.”
When asked if he thought the people in the rest of the UK should have a referendum, the former Labour Chancellor answered: “Yes, I think the people in the rest of the UK - do need to have a say as to whether or not they want a currency union.”
When pressed further on his thoughts about a currency union referendum, Mr Darling said: “I don’t know what the other political parties would do there. But I think it is almost certain that the political parties would make it clear in their manifestos that they would not be willing to enter a currency union, precisely because it means sharing sovereignty in the same way as you would do if you joined the Euro. As you know, the question of whether or not you join the euro is really controversial in the whole of the UK. People have to understand that Nicola Sturgeon patently does not understand what a currency union is. She said it is exactly the same as what we have got just now. No, it is not. What you have got are two separate countries who would have to reach agreement on tax, spend, borrowing and just about everything else.”
Mr Darling added: “If you are going to do something so fundamental as this, just after you are effectively breaking apart the UK, it is inconceivable that the political parties would not have a very firm commitment in their manifestos in relation to this.
“Whether or not they need to have a referendum I don’t know would be a matter for them, I would be in Scotland at that stage.”
The pro-Union parties would argue that the inclusion of commitments not to enter currency union in party manifestos would give the victors of 2015 poll a mandate from the people in support of their position.
Earlier on the Today Programme, Ms Sturgeon said that she did not believe the people of in the rest of the UK should get a say.
“I do not think that would be necessary for the simple reason that the currency of the rest of the UK would not be changing,” the Deputy First Minister said.
“They use sterling right now and would continue to use sterling in partnership with Scotland and that would suit the trading, the financial, the economic interests, not just of Scotland but of the rest of the United Kingdom. It would be one example of the ongoing constructive partnership between the different parts of the British Isles notwithstanding Scottish independence.
“There would require to be agreements on the overall levels of debt and borrowing to ensure the stability of the currency zone. That would of course be in the interests of the of the rest of the United Kingdom. It would also be in the interests of the Scottish Government, a Scottish Government that balances the books every single year, just now because we have to but nevertheless we exercise that fiscal restraint.”