Gordon Brown independence minimum wage warning

Gordon Brown on the campaign trail with Labour's Cowdenbeath by-election candidate Alex Rowley. Picture: TSPL
Gordon Brown on the campaign trail with Labour's Cowdenbeath by-election candidate Alex Rowley. Picture: TSPL
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FORMER Prime Minister Gordon Brown has warned that a vote for Scottish independence would lead to “dog eat dog competition” with a lower minimum wage in Scotland than the UK.

Mr Brown launched a scathing attack on the Scottish government’s white paper that sets out the SNP’s blueprint for independence as he made a rare intervention in the referendum debate.

The former Labour leader said the SNP government had not set out in “anyway” how it would replace the welfare state and the minimum wage protection that exists in the UK under independence.

Mr Brown made the claims as he delivered a speech yesterday (Weds) at the launch of Labour’s campaign for the Cowdenbeath by-election, which will be held on 23 January following the death of former MSP Helen Eadie.

He warned that firms would demand a lower minimum wage in return for investing in Scotland as he talked about a “race to the bottom”.

The SNP has suggested it would cut corporation tax to invite businesses to Scotland but Mr Brown, who served as Chancellor for a decade, insisted they would also be open to cutting the minimum wage at the behest of businesses.

Mr Brown said: “Employers will say: ‘We will come to Scotland if you reduce the minimum wage, or we will go to England or Wales if they cut the minimum wage’.

“So, instead of improving and sharing resources to the benefit of all people, we will end up with a race to the bottom, a dog-eat-dog competition.

“a devalued euro, and then all the benefits that have been built up over time will be lost.

“You don’t need to look into a crystal ball to see this.”

“The SNP has already announced that they wish to cut corporation tax, that they wish to compete with Ireland on corporation tax to lower the revenues that they receive.

“We don’t know what effect this will have on business but we do know that there will be less money available for pensions, public services, education and health.”

Mr Brown, when asked about SNP government’s white paper, said the nationalists had failed to set out how pensions and welfare would be protected in the document.

He said that “all these benefits would be put at risk” as he accused the SNP of failing to set out a plan for sharing resources in the way different parts of the UK do.

Mr Brown said: “Over the last 100 years we have had a pooling of resources across the UK so everyone has access to health and pensions.

“If we did want to give that up, people have to be told what are the consequences of giving all that up.

“We believe in a Union of social justice. The SNP has not shown anyway how it would replace that Union of social justice.”

The former Prime Minister delivered the speech in Lochgelly at Labour’s campaign launch for its by-election candidate Alex Rowley.

Mr Brown went onto suggest that the future of the Rosyth dockyard would be at risk if Scots vote for independence in the referendum on 18 September.

“We know that the future of Rosyth depends not only on having a Labour administration in Fife, but having us as part of the UK.

“We need to ensure that Rosyth has a future because Rosyth is the biggest employer in this constituency.

“One of the main reasons why people in this constituency want Scotland to be part of the UK is that they know the importance to Rosyth of jobs for defence contracts throughout the whole of the UK.”

Mr Brown also attacked the record of Chancellor George Osborne as he claimed policies such as the controversial Bedroom Tax “discriminate” against vulnerable Scots.

SNP MSP Annabelle Ewing said: “This is hypocritical nonsense from Gordon Brown. His remarks entirely ignore the fact that the UK has become a much more unequal society under successive Westminster governments - Tory and Labour.”