Opposition parties attack independence currency union proposal


Alex Salmond has again defended the SNP's position on an independent Scotland's EU membership and a sterling currency union, during first minister's questions on 20 February 2014.

Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont attacked the first minister over the transaction costs to Scottish businesses if Scotland became independent and lost the pound and on SNP proposals for EU membership.

Ms Lamont said, according to figures from the Scottish Parliament, the costs would be eight times higher than in England, at £75 a head - an amount she called the "Alex Tax".

She attacked the SNP leader on the key issue of currency a week after UK Chancellor George Osborne, Labour shadow chancellor Ed Balls and Liberal Democrat Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander joined forces to rule out a formal currency union with an independent Scotland.

The first minister called that intervention "bluff, bluster and bullying".

Ms Lamont said: "The only preposterous bullying bluffer in this fight is the first minister himself."

The first minister hit back saying: "Our proposal is to share the pound and not have the transaction costs.

"It is her proposal - that is Ed Balls's and George Osborne's proposal - to force Scotland into a different currency and impose transaction costs on Scottish and English business."

He added: "The point that is being made by the Scottish Government is a reasonable one - I don't think English businesses will take kindly to be forced to pay the George or Johann Tax."

The first minister went on to say: "The reaction from the Scottish people to being told, instructed from upon high, that our currency, the currency that we jointly built up, doesn't belong to us, it belongs to George Osborne, I think is entirely understandable and will be deeply uncomfortable for the Labour Party in Scotland.

"I don't believe we'll get to a situation where George Osborne wants to make every person in Scotland £25,000 richer, which is what would happen if the UK had to accept all of the national debt."

Ruth Davidson, Scottish Conservative leader, accused the first minister of being "weak, weak, weak" on the currency, pensions and EU membership of an independent Scotland.

Mr Salmond said the Scottish people's reaction to having "edicts laid down by George Osborne" would be "somewhat negative", and cited Nobel laureate Professor Professor James Mirrlees who put forward the currency sharing plan.

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie said the first minister was the "last man standing" by refusing to concede a currency union might not happen.

The rest of the UK would "not want to be lumbered with the whole of the UK national debt" said Mr Salmond, who had earlier pointed that if the UK took all the assets, like the pound, it would have to take all the liabilities too.

Copyright © 2016 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.