Scotland politics

Scottish Independence: Yes chairman Canavan backs Scots currency

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Media captionDennis Canavan says he would personally prefer an independent Scotland had its own currency.

The chairman of the campaign to deliver a yes vote in next year's independence referendum said he would personally prefer Scotland to adopt its own currency after independence.

Dennis Canavan's view is at odds with that of the SNP Scottish government which would rather continue to share the pound sterling.

Mr Canavan, a former Labour MP and independent MSP, is the latest prominent member of the Yes Scotland campaign to support a separate Scottish currency.

Others, including the Scottish Greens and the Scottish Socialist Party, have already expressed their wish for a Scottish replacement for sterling.

Mr Canavan told the BBC: "I am speaking personally here, my preferred option is for Scotland to have its own currency because I think that would give us more flexibility, more freedom. It would give us a wider range of economic levers".

He said he could "live" with holding onto the pound.

However, Mr Canavan added: "If Scotland were to have its own currency then it would have far more freedom to do its own thing and it would have a full range of economic levers to determine its own economic policy."

The Scottish government said its proposal for a currency union with the rest of the UK had the backing of senior economists who made up its Fiscal Commission Working Group.

Last week, Chancellor George Osborne, told an audience of business people in Glasgow it was "highly unlikely" the rest of the UK would agree to a currency union with an independent Scotland.

But Mr Canavan said: "I am finding in the meetings that we are doing in the Yes Scotland' campaign throughout the length and breadth of the country that some people are questioning that advice.

"I think that there is a considerable body of opinion that would favour Scotland having its own currency and keeping open the option that if and when the Eurozone recovers economically then possibly put it to the people of Scotland by means of a referendum whether we should join the Eurozone."

Asked if he would like an independent Scotland to join the Eurozone, Mr Canavan said "eventually, if the economy within the Eurozone recovers, yes, I think that would be something to aim at".

Mr Canavan stressed it was not surprising that different political views within the Yes Scotland campaign had different views on key economic issues like the currency.

He added: "We don't believe in control freakery in our Yes Scotland campaign. We don't tell people what to think and what to say and we don't shut people up. It is not surprising that there are different views being expressed. We are a democratic movement."

Mr Canavan went on: "What unites us is this firm belief that in an independent Scotland, the people of Scotland, through their elected representatives, would be able to shape their own future."

In January, the chairman of the pro union Better Together campaign. Alistair Darling, told the BBC's Newsnight Scotland programme he thought a post-independence currency union with the rest of the UK would be "desirable".

He added: "But you have got to understand there would be consequences. A currency union means you have both got to agree your budgets, you've both got to agree how much you can tax, spend and borrow. The point I am making is that's not freedom."

Responding to Mr Canavan backing a separate currency, the former chancellor said nationalist credibility on currency had been further knocked.

Mr Darling said: "How on earth can they ask people to vote for independence when they can't even agree amongst themselves the most basic and fundamental things like what currency we would use?"

"As their confusion over currency has escalated their credibility has evaporated."

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