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Treasury: Tenth of Scots jobs at risk after Yes

Finance secretary John Swinney with young, Yes-supporting Scottish entrepreneurs yesterday. Picture: Allan Milligan

Finance secretary John Swinney with young, Yes-supporting Scottish entrepreneurs yesterday. Picture: Allan Milligan

  • by SCOTT MACNAB
 

SCOTTISH INDEPENDENCE: Around one in ten Scottish jobs depend on trade with the UK and would be “in danger” after a referendum Yes vote,according to Treasury analysis.

Among the 270,000 jobs on the line are 40,000 in financial services and 180,000 people in the services industry like tourism and hospitality.

The jobs directly benefit from the UK’s single integrated market, the analysis finds, and account for more than 100,000 women and over one in three jobs held by under 35s.

But Nationalist ministers yesterday warned independence is the only way to secure the country’s future prosperity, as Scotland’s economy came under the spotlight of MSPs at Holyrood.

The Treasury report claims 267,000 jobs are linked to the £51 billion of exports between Scotland and the rest of the UK.

Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie will set out the potential impact in a speech in Glenrothes today.

“These jobs wouldn’t go on day one of independence, but they would be in danger even before that,” he is expected to say. “The sheer numbers show how connected we are as a family of nations and how much we support each other to grow.

“The combination of the ability of people in Scotland and the opportunity that the UK presents means we can record such progress then hope and believe we can achieve more.

“I’m not going to put over a quarter of a million jobs at risk; bring investment in renewables shuddering to a halt; see our universities’ research stall.

“If Alex Salmond thinks I’m going to lie down whilst he puts all of these things on the line then he can think again.”

The analysis is based upon independent academic research from Professor Brian Ashcroft of Strathclyde Business School.

At present, total Scottish exports are worth £72 billion a year, more than half of Scotland’s economy. Scotland exports £51bn worth of goods to the rest of the UK, more than double Scotland’s exports to the rest of the world.

The report claims the economic evidence suggests that a “borderless” UK is a key part of Scotland’s economic success, resulting in a fully integrated single market which secures jobs and livelihoods in Scotland.

It came as finance secretary John Swinney yesterday published a report setting out how Scotland could achieve full employment with the creation of more than 200,000 jobs under independence.

Mr Swinney told MSPs yesterday that an independent Scotland’s economy would start life from “strong foundations”.

The country has “key strengths” in sectors such as food and drink, life sciences and advanced manufacturing, along with more universities in the world’s top 200 per head than any other country in the world, as well as Europe’s most highly educated workforce.

“We will begin life as an independent nation in full knowledge of the benefits that taking decisions for ourselves can bring,” he said.

“The ability of us to use the powers of independence to create a stronger economic platform for the people of Scotland is demonstrated by the performance of other small independent countries that show exactly how we could strengthen the economic base of Scotland and how we could have greater and higher ambitions as a consequence.”

But he was pressed over the SNP’s repeated insistence that Scotland should not shoulder a share of the UK’s £1.5 trillion debt if the UK government refuses to share the pound in a currency union after independence.

Tory finance spokesman Gavin Brown challenged the Scottish Government’s Nobel prize-winning economic advisers to reveal whether they support the SNP’s threat.

Mr Brown said: “I ask the Scottish Government again, in that keynote speech, will there be a firm statement made publicly by the Scottish Government that every member of their working group support that argument?

“Because if they do not, they are standing pretty much by themselves. Economists have pointed out that is not a logical position to take.”

The Scottish Government wants to keep the pound in a currency union with the UK after independence. If this is rejected, the Plan B is unclear, although Scotland could use the pound without formal agreement, adopt its own currency, or eventually join the euro.

Alex Salmond suffered a withering attack from Better Together chief Alistair Darling in a live televised debate on the issue last week and former Labour leader Iain Gray described the SNP’s position as a “car crash.”

“The potential victims are not the banks and businesses of Scotland, but ordinary Scots,” Mr Gray said.

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Independence: SNP plan to create 200,000 new jobs

 

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