Nicola Sturgeon to launch summer independence offensive

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has announced a summer independence offensive, with the SNP hosting a series of National Assemblies to promote its economic blueprint for leaving the UK.

The SNP leader made the announcement as one of her key lieutenants admitted he was unable to say what currency Scotland would be using over the next ten to 15 years.

Economy secretary Keith Brown made the admission just before Ms Sturgeon last night finally received the report commissioned by the SNP to make the economic case for independence.

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First Minister Nicola Sturgeon plans to restart the debate about Scottish independence. Picture: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire

The 354-page report by the SNP’s Growth Commission, chaired by former SNP MSP Andrew Wilson, will be published on Friday.

Titled Scotland – The New Case for Optimism: A Strategy for Inter-generational Economic Renaissance, it will look at growth, public finances and currency in an independent Scotland.

Over the summer each section of the report will be discussed by SNP National Assemblies, chaired by whoever is elected party depute leader. As front-runner in the SNP depute contest, Mr Brown is likely to end up in that role.

But yesterday he found himself under fire when he suggested Scotland could ditch the pound, while admitting he was not an expert on currency.

Appearing in front of Holyrood’s economy committee, Mr Brown was asked by Conservative MSP Dean Lockhart to confirm whether the new Scottish National Investment Bank would use sterling over the next ten to 15 years.

Mr Brown said the decision would not be for him to make.

He said: “I think that would be the person that’s got the job of trying to establish certainty going forward to a 15-year period – nobody else can do that. Who knows what changes are going to happen over the course of that time? That’s the currency they’re going to work in, sure, when they’re started, but beyond that who can say? I certainly can’t. I’m not a currency expert.”

Mr Lockhart said: “This is extraordinary stuff. The Scottish National Investment Bank has been promoted by the SNP to provide long-term stable funding for the Scottish economy. However, even before the bank has been formally launched, the SNP’s obsession with independence has raised massive question marks over its future viability.

“If the man in charge of the economy can’t tell us what currency the bank will use in the future, what chance will it have to provide the stability that the Scottish economy so badly needs?”

The report will be debated by the SNP National Assemblies and its recommendations will be discussed ahead of the party’s autumn conference.

Ms Sturgeon said: “The report of the Growth Commission does not shy away from Scotland’s challenges.

“Instead it looks at how we can address these challenges positively and in line with our core values as a nation … it focuses on the ‘why’ of independence and how we can use the powers it will deliver to build a stronger economy and a fairer society.

“In so doing, it heralds the start of a debate based on hope and ambition about the future of the country, rather than on the despair of Brexit.”

Mr Wilson said: “There is much cause for optimism in Scotland’s position and it is my sincere hope that the report generates serious and informed debate.”