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Scottish independence: Pound plan job loss warning

Alistair Carmichael spoke about currency yesterday. Picture: Neil Hanna

Alistair Carmichael spoke about currency yesterday. Picture: Neil Hanna

  • by ANDREW WHITAKER
 

AN INDEPENDENT Scotland would face job losses if the rest of the UK blocked its plans to join a currency union, Scottish Secretary Alistair Carmichael has warned.

Mr Carmichael has mounted a series of attacks on the SNP’s plans for a sterling union and has insisted that a Yes vote would mean Scotland could no longer use the pound.

He said firms could pull out of an independent Scotland if the nation was unable to use sterling.

Mr Carmichael said Scottish-based firms that did the bulk of their trade in other parts of the UK would not want to deal with potentially two different currency systems for business transactions.

He warned of “extra costs and enormous uncertainty” for companies if an independent Scotland was blocked from joining the sterling zone.

The Liberal Democrat minister issued the stark warning yesterday as he visited the Nairn’s Oatcake factory in Edinburgh. He said: “It could cost jobs. Today’s visit was to a business that is a really good manufacturing business that has 90 per cent of its products sold in the rest of the UK.

“If a firm then suddenly had to export the majority of its products to another country then that’s going to have financial implications.”

Mr Carmichael’s attack came after First Minister Alex Salmond said the economic case for independence would be the centrepiece of today’s White Paper.

Mr Carmichael said “job security is best served by being part of the UK” as he attacked claims by the SNP that it could use the full powers of an independent state to boost jobs.

He said Scotland’s financial sector would also be harmed if there was no currency union.

“It could be particularly acute for the financial services sector as a major cost for it is compliance, but under independence there would be different regulators,” he said.

“There are enormous problems with currency unions, as you have got to have political, economic and fiscal integration. Independence is about disintegration.”

However, an SNP government spokesman insisted sterling belonged to Scotland as much as the rest of the UK, as he attacked the UK government’s stance on Europe. The spokesman said: “It is Alistair Carmichael’s Westminster government which is threatening Scottish jobs with their plans for an in-out referendum on EU membership.

“An independent Scotland will keep the pound, which belongs as much to people here as in the rest of the UK.”

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The Scotsman Conferences is holding ‘The Independence White Paper: A business plan for Scotland?’ on 3 Dec. Expert speakers will offer objective analysis on the forthcoming white paper in six key business areas.

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