Scottish independence: SNP has failed to open any talks with UK government bodies on independence
THE SNP government has not opened talks with “any UK government department at all” about the prospect of Scottish independence, it has been disclosed.
• SNP has yet to begin formal discussions with “any UK government department at all” about prospect of independence
• Nationalist insist planning for independence is “well under way”, with white paper due next year
• Poll shows more than a third of SNP supporters want to stay in UK, with another third preferring more powers or status quo
The Foreign Office, Ministry of Defence, Home Office and Treasury are among ten departments which have heard nothing from Edinburgh about the prospect of Scotland leaving the UK, despite the SNP planning a referendum in two years’ time.
The revelation comes as a new poll shows more than a third of SNP supporters want to stay in the UK, with 34 per cent of those who voted for Alex Salmond preferring more powers for Holyrood or even the status quo.
But Nationalists have insisted planning for independence is “well under way” and will be set out in a white paper next year.
The SNP has signalled plans to share a currency, a central bank and business regulation after independence, with the prospect of defence and foreign embassies also being pooled.
But a series of parliamentary questions, which include replies from the departments of Work and Pensions, International Development, Transport, Business, Innovation and Skills, Energy and Climate Change reveal no contact.
Labour Scottish affairs spokeswoman Margaret Curran said: “In less than two years, the SNP want to break up the UK but they haven’t done the slightest bit of homework to find out what this will mean for people in Scotland. Their policies are based entirely on assertion and fantasy.
“The Scottish people are going to make the biggest decision they have ever faced and we have a right to get answers to the most basic of questions on separation including what will happen to our pensions, border controls or employment law.
“The more this goes on, the more it becomes clear the SNP haven’t done the most basic of homework. It is odd that the First Minister talks more about ‘devo-max’ and a second question than he does about separation.”
Mr Salmond dropped his biggest hint that he was favourable towards a second option appearing on the ballot paper recently, describing it as “very attractive”.
But a spokesman for SNP government strategy secretary Bruce Crawford hit back at Mrs Curran’s attack, saying planning was “well under way”.
“This is a ridiculous intervention from Margaret Curran, but sadly in line with her party’s thinking on Scotland,” he said. “The fact she wants the Conservative-led Treasury to have a say on Scotland’s finances post-independence says it all and simply underlines how out of touch Labour are by backing the Tory-led anti-independence campaign to the hilt. Planning for independence is well under way, and the structure of the state will be fully outlined in the Scottish Government’s white paper published next year.”
Meanwhile, the poll released today by think-tank Reform Scotland shows 28 per cent of SNP supporters agree Scotland should remain in the UK under the enhanced “devo-plus” arrangement that would see Holyrood control most taxes, including income and corporation tax, as well as Scotland’s geographic share of oil revenue. A further 6 per cent backed the current devolved set-up, while 63 per cent of Nationalists endorsed full independence.
A majority of voters across the political spectrum say that pro-Union parties should be campaigning for more powers at Holyrood as an alternative to independence.
Jeremy Purvis, the former Liberal Democrat MSP who heads the Devo Plus group, which is backed by Reform Scotland, said: “The fact only just over 60 per cent of SNP voters back independence and also the vast majority of Labour voters want the non-independence parties to work together for devo-plus is highly significant.”
But SNP campaigns director Angus Robertson said the poll was a “disaster” for pro-Union parties with 73 per cent of their supporters saying they should campaign for more powers at Holyrood.
He added: “The SNP wants independence and will campaign to deliver a Yes vote in 2014. At the same time, we recognise there is a real debate to be had about bringing proper job-creating powers to the Scottish Parliament – but rather than listening to the strong support for a ‘more powers’ option, Johann Lamont and her party are forming an alliance with the Tories against any constitutional change.”
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Monday 20 May 2013
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