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Why let Salmond gamble with your money

by Alistair Darling, Former Chancellor of the Exchequer and Better Together Chair

This morning has laid bare a very simple fact. No nationalist can guarantee that Scotland would keep the pound. Why? Because creating new complex Eurozone-style arrangements aren’t just a decision for an independent Scotland. The rest of the UK, a country we would just have walked away from, would have to agree to pass complex legislation to make it possible.

Would the rest of the UK agree to creating Eurozone-style complexity given that they would already have the pound and the Bank of England? Would it be in their interests? We wouldn’t know the answer to this until we separated from the rest of the UK. But today the UK’s Chancellor said that he thought it was unlikely that the rest of the UK would agree to create a Sterlingzone if Scotland left the pound.

So what now is the SNP currency policy for an independent Scotland? They are trying to do on membership of the pound what they did on membership of the EU or NATO – claiming that Scotland would get our own way in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

It is a month since I wrote to Alex Salmond asking him what his plan B would be if a separate currency could not be agreed. After today’s paper he cannot credibly continue to evade these questions:

The nationalists are still arguing we could use the pound without the agreement of the rest of the UK. This morning John Swinney said “nobody can stop us using Sterling.” Alex Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon have said the same.

However, John Swinney announced this morning that the SNP Government accepted the recommendations of their Fiscal Commission which explicitly ruled-out using the pound informally. The Commission recognised, as any sensible person does, that operating without your own currency, and without a central bank backing up our savings and mortgages, is not a viable option.

If the rest of the UK won’t enter into a currency union, or if the terms of a currency union are unacceptable to Scotland then the likelihood is that we end up with a separate currency from the rest of the UK. That is why this morning John Swinney twice refused to rule out setting up a new currency.

Alex Salmond is asking us to take a huge gamble with our money. The only way to guarantee that we keep the UK pound is to vote to stay in the UK.

In their own words - what the nationalists say on currency

The nationalist won't even consider a plan B

The nationalists have refused to rule out Sterlingization

The nationalists' own Fiscal Commission report dismisses Sterlingization as an option, stating that the “drawbacks” would include:

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