Sturgeon’s independence dream denounced as Tory claims SNP plan will ‘impoverish Scotland’

Nicola Sturgeon's leadership record 'failing' says Farage

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Reports this week warned of an £8.5billion black hole for an independent Scotland as pressure mounts on First Minister Nicola Sturgeon. The Institute for Government (IFG) warned Scotland would struggle to borrow the sums it needed to address a deficit worth eight percent of its economy even before the pandemic struck. This comes after the annual Government Expenditure and Revenue Scotland (GERS) report showed the deficit reached a record 22.4 percent of GDP in 2020/21, as coronavirus led to considerably higher public spending. Tom Pope, Deputy Chief Economist at the IFG, said: “It would be a smaller country without an established track record.

“These would not be insurmountable challenges for an independent Scotland, but there would be no avoiding difficult economic choices.”

The IFG’s warnings have been echoed by Scottish Conservative MSP Stephen Kerr, who tells that independence would “impoverish” Scotland.

He warned of tax hikes, spending cuts and trading chaos if Scotland was to leave the union.

Mr Kerr said: “Independence would be economically devastating for Scotland, over 60 percent of everything we make ends up being sold in the UK.

“Ms Sturgeon would be intent on making a customs border at Berwick or Carlisle. It would be outrageous, it would impoverish Scotland.

“Even their own growth commission, Andrew Wilson is one of their own MSPs, he did a report on the economic impact

In February, Mr Wilson warned the Scottish First Minister not to brush over the downsides and “hard work” of independence.

He added that the nationalists had yet to produce “a prospectus that is honest and clear about the transition, timings and trade-offs, as well as positive about its vision”.

Last month, Mr Wilson warned an early push to establish a separate Scottish currency if the country were to become independent could lead to it being devalued and risk “capital flight”.

Mr Kerr believes independence could lead to a variety of negative economic consequences, including tax hikes or spending cuts.

He continued: Mr Wilson’s report admitted there would 10-20 years of real austerity, spending cuts, tax hikes and of massive borrowing.

“We are net beneficiaries of the union. Scotland brings a lot to the union, the Scots bring a lot to the UK. But the UK is also a huge blessing to Scotland.”

Ms Sturgeon has tried to strengthen the SNP’s argument for independence by forming a Holyrood pact with the Scottish Greens.

Green leaders have also been given roles in the Scottish Government.

There has already been tension between the two parties on the environment as the Greens push for a swift end to oil extraction at the Cambo oil field.

Mr Kerr is not convinced the coalition will last, however.

He added: “Sturgeon says it will last, but I’m not sure. I think she will use Patrick Harvie and the Greens for her own purposes.

“The Greens have been so craving, so obsessed with being the first Greens in Government. So they will want to hang in there, but we’ve already seen last week a back-of-the-envelope plan for Covid passports that Harvie had opposed in principle just days before he became a minister, he was now quite happy to vote for it.

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“I would think the fundamental differences between the Greens and everyone else in Scottish politics would have caused a fracture, but I could be proved wrong.

“There are a lot of people in both of those parties who are very unhappy about this arrangement that they now feel as been hoisted upon them.”

Ms Sturgeon remains confident she can win the right to hold a second independence referendum.

She told SNP members at the party’s conference on Monday that “democracy must, and will, prevail.”

In the conference’s closing speech, Ms Sturgeon said: “My approach to government and to politics will be, as far as possible, co-operation not confrontation.

“The experience of the pandemic and the challenges we face as a result reinforces my view that this is the right approach.

“So it is in that spirit of co-operation that I hope the Scottish and UK governments can reach agreement – as we did in 2014 – to allow the democratic wishes of the people of Scotland to be heard and respected.”

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