Scottish independence: ‘More powers with No vote’

Tavish Scott believes devolution will provide Holyrood with more powers. Picture: Neil Hanna
Tavish Scott believes devolution will provide Holyrood with more powers. Picture: Neil Hanna
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DEVOLUTION will provide Holyrood with more power than Alex Salmond’s plan for independence, a leading pro-UK politician argues today, in a provocative intervention on the referendum debate.

Tavish Scott, former leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats, says the SNP’s current proposal to keep the pound after a Yes vote next year would only be possible with restrictions and rules which will tie Scotland down.

The plan to retain a UK-wide “monetary union” would mean “Mr Salmond would have to agree with Mr Osborne” on the big economic decisions, Mr Scott writes in Scotland on Sunday.

As a result, Mr Scott claims that his own favoured option – so-called Devo Plus – would actually give MSPs at Holyrood more control over the country’s economy.

Under that plan, Holyrood and Westminster would share responsibility on economic policy, with MSPs setting income tax and corporation tax, leaving MPs to continue to set taxes such as National Insurance and VAT.

He argues that a No vote next year could lead to such reforms, which would give the devolved nations “the best of both worlds”. SNP figures, however, warn that there is little chance of Westminster devolving such wide powers to Scotland once a No vote has been registered.

Mr Scott’s views are supported by the Devo Plus campaign group, whose members include Ben Thomson, the chair of think-tank Reform Scotland, and former presiding officer MSP Alex Fergusson.

Both the pro-independence and pro-UK sides have been warned there will be restrictions on what the county can do if it chooses to remain within an economic union.

Earlier this year, the Scottish Government’s former chief economist Dr Andrew Goudie wrote that if Scotland did vote Yes and wanted to remain in a currency union, then “it seems improbable that beggar-thy-neighbour tax competition would be accepted on any significant scale” by Westminster.