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Scottish independence: Currency plans need set out

Alistair Carmichael said currency plans post-independence must be set out in the white paper. Picture: Neil Hanna

Alistair Carmichael said currency plans post-independence must be set out in the white paper. Picture: Neil Hanna

  • by ALISTAIR MUNRO AND SCOTT MACNAB
 

Plans for a “new Scottish currency” must be set out in the long-awaited blueprint for ­independence later this month, Scottish Secretary Alistair ­Carmichael said yesterday.

The SNP government’s white paper must also be clear about the costs of setting up a new Scottish state, as well as the price of pensions, he warned in a speech in Inverness.

First Minister Alex Salmond has said Scotland would use the pound in a “sterling union” with the rest of the UK after independence but Mr Carmichael insisted this “wouldn’t work”.

Pensions would be fully protected, the Scottish Government has said, and Scots could claim them earlier after a Yes vote.

In his first constitutional speech since being appointed Scottish Secretary, Mr Carmichael said the white paper, due out on 26 November, must be clear about “how independence would work”.

“The detail matters,” he said. “We cannot be offered a prospectus of ‘it will be alright on the night’.”

The SNP must “tell it straight” about the many areas where it cannot provide guarantees, such as membership of the European Union, defence alliance Nato and the split of assets and liabilities with the UK. The Cabinet minister warned: “If Scotland became an independent country, we would need to put in place our own currency arrangements, new currency ­arrangements.

“The bottom line is that a currency union may not be in the interests of Scotland, or the continuing UK, and it is highly unlikely to be agreed – not because of any malevolence, but because it wouldn’t work.”

He said the white paper must set out a “credible Plan B” on ­currency.

Scotland would also have more elderly and retired people receiving pensions compared to those of working age paying taxes, Mr Carmichael said.

He insisted the forthcoming blueprint must set out “how much more pensions will cost each of us” if Scotland leaves the UK.

The overall price-tag for the creation of a new state also needs to be clear, according to Mr Carmichael, who replaced Michael Moore in a Liberal ­Democrat reshuffle last month.

He opened his speech by claiming to be a “true Scot” and later revealed he had been a target of internet trolls after being called a “supposed Scot” by a Fife-based SNP councillor.

Nationalist MSP Annabelle Ewing hit back at the currency claims last night. She added: “Every time people in the No campaign talk about currency, they look silly.

“It was Alistair Darling himself – the chair of the No campaign – who said that a sterling area between an independent Scotland and the rest of the UK is ‘desirable’ and ‘logical’, which is indeed the case. If the No campaign leaders can’t keep their story straight, no wonder they are losing the plot.”

She added: “The reality is that Scotland more than pays its way in the UK.

“The figures show that pensions are more affordable for Scotland, and with independence we will save £50 million every year by not funding a Westminster system.”

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Bill Jamieson: Clarity required on Europe

 

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