SNP’s plan to stage Scottish independence referendum by 2023 described as ‘utterly preposterous’

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Scotland's First Minister and leader of the Scottish National Party, Nicola Sturgeon, launches her manifesto during the Scottish Parliamentary election in Glasgow, Scotland, Britain April 15

Scotland’s First Minister and leader of the Scottish National Party, Nicola Sturgeon, launches her manifesto during the Scottish Parliamentary election in Glasgow, Scotland, Britain April 15

The SNP is demanding a new independence referendum despite Nicola Sturgeon admitting that her economic case for separation is “completely out of date”.

The First Minister said the SNP’s Growth Commission report, which she commissioned and was published in 2018, could no longer be relied upon because it was written before the Covid pandemic and the final Brexit deal.

However, she has continued to insist that independence is the correct route for Scotland to take and is asking voters for a mandate for a new vote on separation.

The Scottish Tories said Ms Sturgeon’s refusal to set out the “devastating” economic price of independence was “dangerous and dishonest”.

The party said her position showed that “blind faith eclipses basic economics” and described her plan to stage a referendum by 2023 as “utterly preposterous”.

While the SNP insists Scotland would prosper under independence, most analysts believe separation would come with huge economic costs.

It would cost Scotland’s economy up to three times as much in lost trade as Brexit will, according to a recent analysis by the London School of Economics.

Scotland also benefits financially from sharing of resources across the UK, spending £15.1bn more on public services than it raised in taxes in 2019 – a deficit of 8.6 per cent – according to Scottish government’s own statistics.

Ms Sturgeon told Channel 4 News: “While the underlying approach of the Growth Commission is one that I fully endorse and sign up to, the figures in it are completely out of date.

“Because in the period since that was published we’ve undergone a global pandemic, the fiscal position of the UK and most countries across the world has been turned upside down.”

The Growth Commission report was written by former SNP MSP, economist and lobbyist Andrew Wilson.

It caused a backlash by many within the SNP by backing tight constraints on public spending and retaining the pound for years after independence. Ms Sturgeon has vigorously denied that it amounted to a blueprint for austerity.

While Ms Sturgeon has seized on Britain leaving the EU against the wishes of most Scottish voters as a justification for a new referendum, Brexit has in some respects made the case for independence more difficult.

Poll of polls: Support for Scottish independence

Poll of polls: Support for Scottish independence

It would be likely to mean a hard border with England, while Scotland would face being outside both the UK and EU immediately after departure. Ms Sturgeon has claimed Scotland would seek to quickly rejoin the EU, although an accession process could take years.

Scottish Tory finance spokesman Murdo Fraser said: “Nicola Sturgeon’s failure to provide basic information about the costs of independence are typical of an SNP mindset in which blind faith eclipses basic economics.

“Her plan to stage a referendum in 2023 while we recover from Covid is utterly preposterous, but a lack of any information about the devastating financial consequences for hard-pressed families is dangerous and dishonest.

“She knows she cannot provide an honest economic blueprint because it would destroy support for separation.

“So instead, she has decided to dupe the public in the most irresponsible way.”



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