Derek Mackay slams claim independence would bring ‘decade of pain’

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Scotland’s Finance Secretary has hit back at claims that independence would result in a “decade of pain” for Scotland.

Instead Derek Mackay insisted Scotland could be “one of the most successful countries in the world” if it left the UK.

Finance Minister Derek Mackay. Picture: PA

Finance Minister Derek Mackay. Picture: PA

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He made the claim as Holyrood debated the findings of the Sustainable Growth Commission - a body set up by the SNP to examine the economic prospects for an independent Scotland.

Mr Mackay said the report, produced by former SNP MSP Andrew Wilson and others, showed how the “London-centric UK economic model has failed” Scotland, with economic potential held back in a “fiscal straight jacket”.

The Finance Secretary said: “If we look at what small successful advanced economies across the globe have got that we have not, there is only one answer - independence.”

He told MSPs: “We have the potential to become one of the most successful countries in the world.”

Pro-UK parties argued the report - which included plans to keep the pound as Scotland’s currency after leaving the UK for a 10-year transition period - would leave the country facing spending cuts if it was no longer part of the Union.

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie said: “In short, an independent country would face at least a decade of pain, with cuts to public services, without the back-up of significant oil revenues.

“It would have no control over its own currency, with an economy prone to greater volatility.”

He claimed the “financial weakness” Scotland would face would be “a direct threat to our National Health Service”.

Tory MSP Murdo Fraser said the proposals would result in “austerity max”.

He said: “Austerity on a scale this country has never seen - £27 billion of austerity over 10 years meaning massive tax rises and spending cuts.

“This is exactly why so many on the left, why so many who were part of the Yes campaign in 2014, have rejected the Growth Commission proposals, and let us never again hear from a single member on the SNP benches bleating about Westminster austerity - what they are proposing is many times worse.”

Labour’s James Kelly branded the report the “cuts commission”.

“It would pile the pain on to Scotland’s communities and bring the country to its knees,” he said.

Meanwhile Patrick Harvie of the pro-independence Scottish Green Party criticised the “absence of green economics” in the report.

“For Greens, if independence meant a version of conventional economic policy decided here instead of London we would have very little interest,” he said.