Scottish Election results 2021: SNP Independence white paper 'would not necessarily be how it works in practice'

The SNP’s white paper which would lay out the detail of an independent Scotland would not ‘necessarily’ be how it works in practice, the party’s depute leader Keith Brown has admitted.

Scottish National Party (SNP) deputy leader, Keith Brown, said a white paper for independence wouldn't necessarily be what actually happens in an independent Scotland.

Speaking on BBC Scotland s Sunday Show, Mr Brown said the SNP would provide a “detailed white paper” to answer questions such as border issues and currency if Scotland was independent, but added that the contents of the paper “doesn't necessarily mean that's what will happen in an independent Scotland”.

He said: "I think there's no question - in terms that you talked about, the lender of last resort and some of the big financial decisions - there is no question that pandemic has changed the fundamentals for every country. The UK is now over £2 trillion in debt, it’s got a deficit of £330 billion pounds so far this year. It has changed the financial fundamentals for every country and Scotland has to deal with that same as anybody else.

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"What we will do is what we did last time. We will provide a white paper that gives detailed answers as to what we would propose. That doesn't necessarily mean that's what will happen in an independent Scotland, because who knows who the government will be, but we’ll put out our stall in a white paper, in a much more considered and detailed way than they did for the Brexit referendum.”

However, he said that there as a caveat in that the current cohort of politicians campaigning for an independent Scotland would not necessarily be those running the country if an independence referendum was won.

He added: “We can say that as the SNP and the Scottish Government, but the decisions taken by independent Scotland would be those of the government of an independent Scotland.”

The depute leader said that an independent Scotland would open its borders to the 27 countries of the European Union, but added that the Common Travel area – with the rest of the UK and Ireland – would also continue to exist.

He also said that a referendum would only take place “when it is safe to do so” and pointed to Electoral Commission guidance that there should be at lest six months from when a referendum is announced to the vote.

Mr Brown said: “People will only engage when they feel safe to do so. So, it will be for the parliament to decide exactly when that referendum will take place and it will take place when it's safe to do so.”

He added that the Scottish public did not yet feel ready, in terms of the pandemic, to campaign for a referendum, despite politicians in Westminster preparing for a major easing of social distancing.

He said: “There's two things: one is what the government says in terms of regulations as to what's permissible. The second thing is what people are willing to do. I think that's really important.”

Mr Brown also refused to commit to a timescale of when manifesto pledges such as free dental care would be introduced.

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