Independent Scotland would keep sterling, says Alex Salmond …
David Cameron would be in breach of undertakings to the Scottish people if the UK refused to allow an independent Scotland2 to join a sterling currency union, Alex Salmond3 has said. As he launched the SNP’s 670-page white paper on independence4 in Glasgow, the first minister said the prime minister had agreed in last year’s Edinburgh agreement to respect the result of the referendum and to work constructively with the Scottish government. Salmond announced that the Scottish government would follow the launch of the white paper by embarking on a diplomatic charm offensive to promote an independent Scotland’s membership of the EU and Nato.
The Scottish first minister urged Scotland’s 4 million voters to seize a “once-in-a-generation” chance to create a fairer, more prosperous country by voting to leave the UK and taking control of their own destiny. He promised to cut corporation tax, extend free childcare and increase the minimum wage. The first minister said Scotland would continue “constructive working together” with the rest of the UK, sharing the pound and the Queen, take 90% of North Sea oil, but without Trident nuclear weapons and the BBC.
He argued that independence would free Scotland from having policies such as the bedroom tax imposed by Westminster governments “rejected at the ballot box in Scotland”, which inflicted pain on the most vulnerable in society. The pro-UK Better Together campaign has highlighted the Scottish government’s demand to form a sterling currency union with the rest of the UK as one of the SNP’s central weaknesses. Gordon Brown has described it as “self-imposed colonialism”.
But Salmond said Cameron would be in breach of the Edinburgh agreement if the UK rejected a currency union. The two governments have agreed to respect the referendum result and to work constructively “in the best interests of the people of Scotland and of the rest of the United Kingdom”. Salmond said: “The Bank of England and sterling are as much Scotland’s assets as London’s assets.
They are certainly not George Osborne’s assets. We put forward in this paper our willingness to accept liabilities. We are also entitled to the share of assets.”
The first minister dismissed suggestions that an independent Scotland would struggle to join Nato if it abandoned the UK’s Trident nuclear deterrent, and would be obliged to join the euro as part of EU membership terms. “There have been lots of discussions,” he said. “We have put forward a proposition believing there will be enthusiasm for Scotland’s membership of the EU. “We certainly haven’t heard anything to the contrary.
The international affairs secretary will be conducting discussions with a range of representatives from consulates tomorrow.” Alistair Darling, the leader of the Better Together campaign, said: “Nothing has changed as a result of this white paper. The nationalists have ducked the opportunity to answer the big questions about Scotland’s future.
“It is a fantasy to say we can leave the UK but still keep all the benefits of UK membership. The white paper is a work of fiction. It is thick with false promises and meaningless assertions.”
The white paper also says the SNP would ask the UK government to immediately cancel the rollout of universal credit in Scotland if there were a yes vote next September. It also adds that it wants Trident to be removed from the Clyde by 2020 – the end of the first independent Scottish parliament. In his foreword to Scotland’s Future Your guide to an independent Scotland, Salmond said: “That is the real democratic value of independence the people of Scotland are in charge.
“It will no longer be possible for governments to be elected and pursue policies against the wishes of the Scottish people Independence will put the people of Scotland in charge of our destiny.” The white paper states: “If we vote no, Scotland stands still. A once-in-a-generation opportunity to follow a different path, and choose a new and better direction for our nation, is lost.
Decisions about Scotland would remain in the hands of others.” Stating too that the union flag would no longer fly in Scotland, the document confirms a series of Scottish government and Scottish National party pledges for independence, including: Retain the pound as Scotland’s currency and would take on a fair share of the UK’s debt.
Take a full geographic share of North Sea oil and gas reserves, with more than 90% of the UK reserves in Scottish waters. No rise in general taxation to fund public spending, while increasing tax allowances in line with inflation. A new written constitution with the Queen as head of state.
The renationalisation of the Royal Mail. A new Scottish defence force of 15,000 regular personnel and a new intelligence and security agency. A guarantee that the minimum wage will rise by inflation: if that had been policy already since 2008, the lowest paid would be 675 better off.
A network of 70 to 90 embassies and consulates costing up to 120m. Cutting corporation tax by 3% and cutting air passenger duty by 50%. Extending free childcare to one-year-olds, creating 35,000 new jobs.
A new Scottish Broadcasting Service to replace the BBC.
An “early agreement on the speediest safe removal of Trident nuclear weapons a priority”.
- ^ Video will start automatically on this page (www.theguardian.com)
- ^ More from the Guardian on Scotland (www.theguardian.com)
- ^ More from the Guardian on Alex Salmond (www.theguardian.com)
- ^ the SNP’s 670-page white paper on independence (scotgov.publishingthefuture.info)