Alex Salmond: currency union is ‘best option’

SCOTTISH INDEPENDENCE: First Minister Alex Salmond has insisted that sharing sterling after independence is the best option for Scotland, but that there is a plan B, C, D, E and F.
Alex Salmond: Currency union is 'best option' for Scotland. Picture: ReutersAlex Salmond: Currency union is 'best option' for Scotland. Picture: Reuters
Alex Salmond: Currency union is 'best option' for Scotland. Picture: Reuters

The Scottish Government favours a formal monetary union, in which an independent Scotland would continue to share the pound, but this arrangement has been ruled out by Chancellor George Osborne and the main parties at Westminster.

Mr Salmond has faced growing calls to set out his “plan B” for currency since Mr Osborne’s statement last month.

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Speaking on The Andrew Marr show he would not be drawn on details of the plan but said that economic advisers had drawn up a range of viable options.

He told the BBC programme: “The fiscal commission working group set out not just a plan B as you put it but B, C, D, E and F, a range of viable currency options for an independent Scotland, but clearly we should argue for plan A that is to say the thing that’s best, in the best interests of Scotland and indeed the rest of the United Kingdom.

“The range of options is there within the working group proposals which were published but the best option that they identified was to share sterling, to share the pound, which is as much our currency.

“It’s certainly more our currency than it is George Osborne’s. It’s a shared currency.

“We’re as entitled to share it as the people in London and therefore if you claim ownership over that currency like Ed Balls and George Osborne are doing then unfortunately you claim ownership over all the debts of the United Kingdom and no serious politician in London is actually going to argue that process.

“That’s why people in Scotland are seeing through the bluff and the bluster.”

He was also asked about claims by European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso that Scotland may find it ‘’extremely difficult, if not impossible’’ to join the EU.

He said: “Serious people, secretary generals, former judges in the court of justice like David Edward have pointed out why you cannot exclude from the European Union citizens of Scotland who have been part of it for over 40 years and why it would be totally ridiculous for the European Union not to accept the democratic wishes of the Scottish people.”

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He also said that an independent Scotland would remain part of the existing common travel area between the UK and the Republic of Ireland.

He said: “We’ve had a common travel area since the 1920s which has encompassed recently not just the Republic of Ireland but the Isle of Man, the Channel Islands which are not, incidentally, in the European Union.

“There are differences between Irish immigration policy and the immigration policy in the rest of the UK but that hasn’t stopped the common travel area working.”

In a statement released earlier today Mr Salmond said that “momentum is firmly with the Yes campaign” as the six-month countdown to the independence referendum approaches.

Mr Salmond said he believes Scots will choose ‘’hope over fear’’ by backing an independent Scotland when the country goes to the polls on September 18.

He described the No campaign as the “most negative campaign in modern political history” and pointed to the latest polls showing support for the Yes camp.

A survey on Thursday found that support for Scottish independence had reached its highest level for more than six months.