Rejecting indy vote will save endless chaos - Sue Webber

No matter what Chancellor Jeremy Hunt announced yesterday, opposition knives would be out for him come what may.

Sue Webber MSP - Conservative
Sue Webber MSP - Conservative

Amid the attacks, it’s easy to forget the UK Government spent £97.4bn on employment retention schemes and extra welfare during the pandemic so millions maintained a decent standard of living, and the fall-out from Liz Truss’s brief tenure has obscured the fact that all parties welcomed her energy crisis package which even for just the six months it now covers could cost up to £30bn.

That’s around £130bn the Treasury would not have expected to find, any more than the government expected to deal with a deadly pandemic or a brutal war on mainland Europe, both of which lie at the heart of global inflation which is driving up the cost of borrowing and hitting all nations, when the opposition and much of the media would have you believe it’s unique to the UK.

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With UK inflation now over 11 per cent, it’s not just the price of goods which increases, but the loans the government needs to fund vital services on which we all rely, and which must be repaid.

In the face of such huge challenges, there were never going to be any winners yesterday, but the myth of free money is proving extremely difficult to dispel, as a new IPSOS poll this week demonstrated, with 43 per cent of people believing the Scottish economy would improve after independence, despite the SNP having no idea how this might be achieved.

What is likely to happen was spelt out his week by Glasgow University macroeconomics expert Professor Ronnie MacDonald, who warned the need for an independent currency, necessary for a new government to control monetary policy, would slash average household income by £7300.

Higher interest rates, debt and import costs will push the new money down by over a quarter of the pound, and this is not doom-mongering, because the last few months have shown how international markets quickly punish borrowing without a pay-back plan.

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Argue, as some do, that the answer is to ignore the markets would put Scotland in the same place as Russia, Iran and North Korea. And definitely not in the EU.

Maybe some people look at this week’s expansion of child benefit payments and genuinely believe independence just means more of the same, opening up an endless Aladdin’s Cave of riches being denied to Scotland by an avaricious Westminster.

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Yet in the teeth of a global economic typhoon, the First Minister still insists the plan is to stage and win an independence referendum in 11 months’ time, as if the SNP has demonstrated it can run an independent country when it proves day in, day out that efficient administration is well beyond its capabilities.

The SNP has had free rein with health and education for 15 years, and even with more money per head than England the outcomes are far worse.

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On Wednesday morning, when the Supreme Court makes its ruling about whether the Scottish Government can stage an independence vote without Westminster consent, we will know for sure if there is to be a referendum next October.

The SNP’s pitchforks and torches of outrage will be dusted down on Tuesday night, but rejection will save us from needless chaos.

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Sue Webber is a Lothian Scottish Conservative MSP