Scotland and the pound: 'Clear risks'
- 29 January 2014
- From the section UK Politics
There are two words and one warning that really matter in today's speech by the Governor of the Bank of England.
Mark Carney spoke of the "clear risks" involved if an independent Scotland tries to carry on using the pound.
He warned that if this is not handled in the right way a new "sterling area" could go the way of the eurozone - facing runs on the bank and on sovereign debt.
Why then - you might wonder - did both sides of the debate about Scottish independence find something to welcome in the speech?
Those in favour of a Yes vote are able to say that Mr Carney has shown that sharing the pound is not a fantasy and, indeed, he has spelt out how it could work in practice.
The Better Together campaign are pointing out that the governor has confirmed their warnings that for an independent Scotland to share the pound it would first have to reach agreement with what's left of the UK on the levels of tax, spending and borrowing - involving what Mr Carney called "ceding of national sovereignty".
If that weren't possible Scotland would need a Plan B the Treasury says - either to set up their own currency or to join the euro.
This was a speech of a man who made clear that he wouldn't be the one taking these decisions.
The Governor and the Bank are paid to do what the politicians in Westminster (and, possibly, Edinburgh) tell them to do.
However, I know which side will feel happier tonight.
The man who's in charge of the pound has just made it more likely that Scots voters will think about what he called the "clear risks" of replicating the chaos in the eurozone - in Greece or Spain or Portugal - when they are told "Don't worry, after independence you'll be able to use the pound just as you are now".
A warning of a risk that could cost people money - there are few things more toxic for those trying to persuade voters to take a step into the unknown.