AN INDEPENDENT Scotland would become part of a northern European "arc of prosperity", the Scottish National Party promised yesterday.
Alex Salmond, the SNP leader, claimed that Ireland, Iceland and Norway demonstrated that small independent countries were amongst the richest in the world.
Mr Salmond said that all three "young countries" had become independent in the 20th century and moved from being less prosperous than Scotland to being more economically successful.
Making his case for reduced business taxation, the SNP leader said that all three of these northern European nations had lower corporation taxes than Scotland had as part of the UK.
Norway, the second most prosperous country in the world, charged businesses 28 per cent corporation tax. Ireland, the fifth richest country, had a rate of 12.5 per cent and in Iceland, the sixth in the world prosperity league, the rate was 18 per cent.
He cited Iceland's increase in spending on research and development, Norway's creation of a 110.9 billion "future generations fund" and Ireland's booming financial sector as examples that an independent Scotland should follow.
Mr Salmond said: "Scotland can be part of northern Europe's arc of prosperity.
"There are three countries there which are all in the top six wealthiest in the world. In contrast, devolved Scotland is in 18th place and the UK as a whole is only 14th.
"With distant London in charge, Scotland will just keep slipping further behind."
However, a spokesman for Scottish Labour dismissed the claims, saying: "Until the SNP explains where the axe will fall to pay for the 11 billion cost of independence, nobody will take them seriously."