£110bn debt is worth end of the UK says MSP Margo MacDonald

Estimates that Scotland would be saddled with £110 billion in national debt if it split from the UK, putting it on a par with Greece and Portugal, is actually the "best argument for independence", the country's only Independent MSP has said.

Margo MacDonald said the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) report demonstrates how poorly Westminster has run the economy and should be used as part of the SNP's campaign for separation.

The IEA said Scottish ministers would have to carry out a stringent programme of cuts to manage the debt, which is on about the same scale as Scottish's GDP.

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Ms MacDonald blamed the UK for the state of Scotland's finances and said the Westminster government had put the country's economy in danger of a Greek or Portuguese-style crisis.

The former SNP member claimed First Minister Alex Salmond was "missing a trick" by not picking-up on the report.

She said: "THE IEA is saying that we would have an economy like Portugal or Greece, while I would point out that it's the British government that has been running Scotland's economy and the state they've got it into is the best argument for independence there is.

"As a country, Scotland had the highest income from oil in Europe, but this has been squandered by successive UK governments. If we look at the way the UK has run the Scottish economy, than that's the strongest case for independence there is.

"We keep being told that we're much better off being part of the UK economy, but look at the huge problems there are in Scotland.

"We're forever being told we can't have independence and an economy based on oil and petrol, which is a claim that doesn't make sense.

"The SNP government is trying to appear respectable and is really missing a trick by not picking-up on all this.

"Alex Salmond and the SNP should have seized on this. I can't believe that no-one has picked up on the irony of this report."