We won’t pay! Salmond says Scotland should pursue ‘clean break’ with UK in debt U-turn
SNP 'can't answer basic questions' says Jackie Baillie
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The Alba party leader said the party’s position was that Scotland should have no share of the UK national debt if independence was achieved. Arguing the economic case for independence, the former Scottish First Minister, added: “We think now, as opposed to 2014, there should be a clean break settlement between Scotland and the rest of the UK.
“All we’re doing is putting forward a contribution to the economic debate.
“We’re saying you can’t go into a referendum with the same economic policy you had seven years ago when the world was different.”
He stressed: “You’d start with effectively a zero borrowing position.”
Mr Salmond also stressed an independent Scotland should move to establish its own currency within months of independence as the ability to issue debt would be crucial.
He added the economic case for independence needed to be “furnished and burnished” for the current day.
The comments are a change in policy from the former Scottish First Minister who previously said Scotland should agree to a share of the national debt as part of an independence settlement.
The previous policy, Mr Salmond said, was based on retaining the pound and having a currency union with the rest of the UK, but this has been ruled out by the UK Government.
However, a report by the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) also said Scotland’s fiscal deficit could be as high as 25 percent of GDP as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, putting Scottish independence into question.
The economic side of the debate around Scottish independence regularly focuses on the deficit, which critics say is too high and would require austerity measures in a newly independent Scotland to rectify.
In an analysis published this week, the IFS said spending could have outstripped revenue north of the border by between 22 percent and 25 percent in 2020-21, an increase from 8.6 percent the previous year.
While the deficit is not as large as previously projected by the IFS, nor does it reach the same levels as in Wales or Northern Ireland, the figure for the UK as a whole is just 16 percent.
Higher levels of public spending in Scotland are, according to the IFS, paid for from fiscal transfers from the south of England.
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Under the current trajectory, the IFS forecasts Scotland’s deficit to rebound in a similar way to the UK’s, dropping to just under 10 percent in 2025-26.
Willie Rennie, leader of the Scottish Lib Dems claimed voters in Scotland had “five consecutive days of confusing arguments inside the nationalist camp” this week over issues such as the border between Scotland and England, what currency an independent Scotland would use and whether it would join the European Union.
Mr Rennie warned: “If the nationalists get a majority it will be like this for five whole years.”
An SNP spokeswoman said: “The only safe way to ensure Nicola Sturgeon is re-elected as First Minister and that Scotland’s future lies in Scotland’s hands – not Boris Johnson’s – is to give both votes to the SNP on May 6th.”
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