‘Independent Scotland credit equal to Switzerland’

AN INDEPENDENT Scotland could have the same “credit-worthiness” as Switzerland, Alex Salmond claimed when he delivered a keynote speech on the Isle of Man last night.

Alex Salmond made his keynote speech last night. Picture: Getty

The First Minister said Scotland could have the same triple-A credit rating as Switzerland, one of the world’s largest financial centres and a country with a tradition of banking privacy.

Mr Salmond made the claim as he delivered the chief minister’s lecture on the Isle of Man, which he cited as an example of how an independent Scotland can retain the pound.

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He pointed out that the Isle of Man uses sterling for convenience, is not in a formal currency union but still has a better credit rating than the UK.

Mr Salmond insisted that the arrangements showed that “creditworthiness is based on your economic prospects” and that Scotland’s strong financial centre could help it achieve a top credit status.

The UK’s credit rating was downgraded earlier this year, but the Isle of Man’s triple-A status was kept intact by ratings agency Moody’s.

However rival agency Standard & Poor’s did downgrade the Isle of Man to double-A plus in 2011, claiming it was constrained by its undiversified small economy, which makes it more vulnerable to external shocks.

Mr Salmond claimed that an independent Scotland could perform as well as other small nations, such as Switzerland, Norway and Luxembourg, which all have top credit ratings.

He said: “Lots of small countries have retained their triple-A status, unlike the United Kingdom.

“They demonstrate on an international scale that credit-worthiness is based on your economic prospects – your underlying strength, not your overwhelming size.

“The experience of the Isle of Man shows us that self-governing territories can have credit ratings, within a sterling zone, which compare favourably with the UK’s.”

The First Minister made the speech during a three-day visit to the Isle of Man, which is a crown dependency that is self governing but remains British property.

However, Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander warned that Mr Salmond’s plan for independence could lead to a eurozone style crisis.

He said: “The Scottish Government have gone from comparing themselves to the arc of prosperity to a small island population.

“The reality is that a currency union between the rest of the UK and Scotland is unlikely – lessons from the eurozone show the stark consequences of it.

“The only way to guarantee keeping the pound sterling is for Scotland to remain part of the UK family.”

Meanwhile, Mr Salmond also used the speech to say that Scotland must gain control over its own seas to rid them of nuclear submarines and “unelected commissioners” taking their resources for the UK treasury to squander.

He went on to claim that Scotland is on the verge of a “second energy windfall” with renewables but this can only be harnessed “wisely” with independence.