SNP ministers have been accused of misleading the public on their independence currency plans after newly-released Scottish Government documents acknowledged EU membership required the adoption of the euro.
The documents, made public under freedom of information legislation, outlined the government’s plans to create a multi-million pound Scottish Monetary Institute (SMI) had Scotland voted for independence in 2014.
The SNP campaigned for independence on the basis that Scotland would keep the pound and continue to use the Bank of England as a central bank – a position that was opposed by the UK government.
The Scottish Government’s documents revealed that officials were exploring the option of the SMI, which would have had a 450-strong staff and would have cost around £50 million a year to run, becoming a Scottish central bank.
The documents also reveal that officials had flagged up the prospect of Scotland being forced to join the euro. Under a heading of “hot issues” that could cause problems, the paper admits one such issue would be: “Continued use of sterling and the EU requirement for new member states to aim for convergence to adopt the euro. Role of the SMI will depend on negotiations with the EU.”
Elsewhere it says: “New Member States are also committed to complying with the criteria laid down in the Treaty in order to be able to adopt the euro in due course after accession.”
Last night Conservative finance spokesman Murdo Fraser said: “This is an astonishing revelation. At the same time as Nicola Sturgeon was confidently preaching that we could keep the pound and share the Bank of England’s functions, she knew the EU could ruin those plans.
“The SNP can’t even confirm whether they want to be part of the EU any more. If this is the level of their attempts to face two ways, then no wonder.
“Not only that, but their plans for a separate Scottish Monetary Institute would be extortionate, with hundreds of staff needed even if the Bank of England maintained responsibility for a ‘large’ number of functions.
“We already knew the SNP’s economic plans were built on sand. Now we have clear proof they were actively misleading the public.”
Finance secretary Derek Mackay’s spokeswoman said: “This material shows the thoroughness with which Scottish Government officials prepared for an independent Scotland ahead of the 2014 referendum, and is a stark contrast with the lack of preparation put into the Brexit referendum by the Tories.
“The entire basis of these papers is for arrangements for an independent Scotland continuing to use the pound.
“No country can be compelled to join the euro, as the example of Sweden – which joined the EU 22 years ago and rejected the single currency in a referendum 14 years ago – proves.”