Humza Yousaf's LSE speech about the benefits of independence ignored LSE research about how bad it could be – Scotsman comment

A 2021 study by the LSE’s Centre for Economic Performance found that ‘the negative impact of independence on Scotland’s economy is two to three times greater than the costs of Brexit’

Humza Yousaf’s speech to the London School of Economics was described as “amazing” by one enthusiastic audience member. However, for those familiar with SNP rhetoric, his remarks were, for the most part, a restatement of the usual arguments for independence.

Some other small countries do well, therefore Scotland would too. The “Westminster consensus” holds Scotland back and dooms the UK to “managed decline”. Brexit dragged Scotland out of the European Union against its will and the resulting economic damage will be long-lasting.

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He quoted research from both the Office for Budget Responsibility and the National Institute of Economic and Social Research to back up this latter, accurate claim. However, of course, what he did not do, was mention similar studies into the consequences of independence.

Humza Yousaf gave a speech about the failings of the current UK economic model at the London School of Economics (Picture: Stefan Rousseau/PA)Humza Yousaf gave a speech about the failings of the current UK economic model at the London School of Economics (Picture: Stefan Rousseau/PA)
Humza Yousaf gave a speech about the failings of the current UK economic model at the London School of Economics (Picture: Stefan Rousseau/PA)

A 2021 report by the LSE’s Centre for Economic Performance found that “the negative impact of independence on Scotland’s economy is two to three times greater than the costs of Brexit”. Brexit and independence combined, which would be the starting point for the new nation, was estimated to cause a fall of up to 8.7 per cent in long-term income per capita.

As Liberal Democrat MP Alistair Carmichael wrote at the time: “SNP leaders cannot claim with a straight face that this Brexit trade disruption is bad, but three times as much from independence would be good. Brexit is bad for trade. Independence – Brexit 2.0 – would be worse.”

The damage caused by the UK’s departure from the EU should serve as a warning, as should overly optimistic talk from the SNP that so often mirrors Brexiteers’ now-broken promises. Brexit itself has also changed the independence argument. Had the UK remained in the EU, Scotland could have left the Union while preserving freedom of movement of people and goods. This is no longer an option. The chances of avoiding a hard border with England if Scotland joined the EU appear slim to non-existent.

Yousaf may have enjoyed a different audience on his trip to the “fine city” of London but, back home, hard realities remain a problem for those pushing independence as the solution to all our woes.

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