Scottish Government adviser says it would be a 'pity' if the UK 'splits up'

A key Scottish Government adviser has claimed it would be a “pity” if the UK splits up.

Mariana Mazzucato, who sits on the Scottish Government’s Council of Economic Advisers, claimed she had never discussed the issue with First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, but did not support independence herself.

Speaking with the New Statesman, Ms Mazzucato answered “I don’t know” when asked if there should be a second referendum.

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She said: “It would be a pity if the UK splits up.

One of Nicola Sturgeon's own advisers suggested independence might not be a good idea.
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“If you look at where growth would come from in Scotland on its own, it’s not clear whether it would be in a better or worse position.

“Already it’s a pity that they [the UK] got out of Europe in terms of being any sort of mighty force – even more so if you then split up the little that’s left.”

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The Council of Economic Advisers is an independent advisory group to the First Minister.

Ms Mazzucato, who is the founding director of UCL’s Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose, suggested the Scottish economy would be weaker outside the UK.

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She said: “The economies of scale and scope are stronger with the United Kingdom.

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“But if they have different strategies – if, for example, you have a Scotland, and I’m just saying theoretically, that really does believe in strengthening the welfare state, that does believe in inclusive growth, that does believe in public banks and England doesn’t – then, actually, maybe together it becomes more of a headache because it’s a constant battle.”

A former special adviser to the EU commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation, Ms Mazzucato also criticised Boris Johnson’s comments the UK vaccine programme succeeded because of “greed”.

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She said: “It’s so ridiculous for Boris Johnson to say that it’s due to greed.

“It’s actually a perfect example of a strong industrial-science policy.

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“What I have been impressed by, because we all know that medicine comes from these ecosystems of public and private actors, is that the roll-out through the NHS and through community-based GP practices was incredibly successful compared to the complete disaster of the outsourced Test and Trace roll-out.”

Pamela Nash, chief executive of Scotland in Union, has now urged Ms Sturgeon to change her mind on independence.

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She said: “The First Minister should listen to her own expert adviser.

“Splitting the UK would lead to deeper austerity, cuts to public services and a hard border between friends and families.

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“We are stronger together as part of the UK and the SNP should drop its obsession with independence and focus on uniting the country as we recover from Covid.”

Lib Dem MP Alistair Carmichael said: “Nicola Sturgeon struggles to listen to anyone outside the inner circle these days, so the fact that she doesn’t listen to her own economic advisers is not a massive surprise.

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“Nor is it a surprise that if you ask an economist about the wisdom of breaking up an economic union they will think it is a bad idea. It was true of Brexit – independence would be Brexit turbo-charged.

“The case for independence is always going to be one that relies on shouting down the real fears people have about the economy.

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"That is why the SNP is so determined to push on with a referendum when our economy is still struggling."

Tom Arthur, the SNP candidate for Renfrewshire South, claimed Ms Mazzucato‘s comments were “interesting”.

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He said: "Scotland is fortunate and privileged to benefit from Mariana Mazzucato‘s advice. Her remarks on diverging policies and strategies between Westminster and Scotland make for interesting reading.

"That is already evident as the democratic deficit between Westminster and Holyrood widens, with the UK Government imposing an extreme Brexit that has hit jobs and businesses in Scotland, inflicting a decade of devastating austerity, and stripping powers from the Scottish Parliament – all against the will of the people of Scotland.

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"In stark contrast, the SNP has put forward transformative policies to create a progressive and fairer society, including plans to double the Scottish Child Payment, a new National Care Service, a proper pay rise for our heroic NHS workers, 100,000 affordable homes, and devices for every school pupil, so no child misses out on learning.”

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