Scotland politics

Scottish independence: Jackson Carlaw would back currency union after "Yes" vote

Jackson Carlaw Image copyright Scottish Conservatives
Image caption Mr Carlaw was speaking on Brian Taylor's Big Debate programme

The deputy leader of the Scottish Conservatives has agreed it would be "rational and sensible" for an independent Scotland to keep the pound.

Jackson Carlaw also said he would argue for Scotland to be automatically admitted to the EU in the event of a "Yes" vote in the referendum.

Mr Carlaw later clarified that he "firmly believed" a currency union would not happen after independence.

The SNP welcomed Mr Carlaw's comments, which were made on BBC Radio Scotland.

Mr Carlaw was speaking on the Brian Taylor's Big Debate programme as part of a panel which also included the SNP MSP Bill Kidd.

The Conservative MSP said: "If we vote for independence in September, I'll be manning the barricades with Bill Kidd, because I will be a Scot in a country that has decided to vote for independence, and I will be arguing for us to keep the pound.

"I will be arguing for us to be automatically in the European Union.

"The problem is, that while the rest of the UK has a voice not a vote in the referendum, after the referendum the rest of the UK has a vote and we only have a voice in whether or not they agree to share the currency with us."

Mr Carlaw was pressed by presenter Brian Taylor on whether or not it would be "rational and sensible" for an independent Scotland to keep the pound.

He responded: "Yes, but that's not the point. The point is, it will be the rest of the UK that will make the determination."

He added: "It would be wonderful if the first minister's assertions that we could keep the pound and that we will automatically be in Europe were correct in that circumstance but here's the question: 'If we can't keep the pound, if they're not bluffing, if George Osborne really is the new Margaret Thatcher and no means no, and if Barroso is right and we have to renegotiate as an independent state our accession to the EU from outside it, what is the plan in that case?'"

'Mutual interests'

Mr Carlaw, a West Scotland MSP, later issued a statement which said: "I made clear that - in the event of a Yes vote - I and all other politicians would argue for what's best for Scotland.

"Despite this, I firmly believe a currency union would not happen, as has been made abundantly clear by those who will be making the decision.

"That's why it's so critical Alex Salmond outlines a Plan B."

Responding to Mr Carlaw's remarks, SNP MSP Kenneth Gibson said: "Mr Carlaw's admission shows that the Tories will support a currency union after a Yes vote - and confirms that George Osborne's recent bluster on the pound was just campaign rhetoric designed to try and threaten people in Scotland into voting No.

"After a Yes vote, the bluff and bluster will come to an end and the Scottish and UK governments will negotiate a currency union in the mutual interest of both countries - and I look forward to Jackson Carlaw being on Scotland's side when those negotiations take place."

The Scottish government has argued that keeping the pound under a formal currency union - or "sterling zone" - would be in the interests of both Scotland and the rest of the UK in the event of a "Yes" vote.

But UK Chancellor George Osborne has ruled out a currency union, a position backed by Labour and the Liberal Democrats.

The referendum on Scottish independence will be held on 18 September, with voters being asked the Yes/No question: "Should Scotland be an independent country?"

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