Scottish independence: Nicola Sturgeon's economic plans make Kwasi Kwarteng's mini-budget look amazing – John McLellan

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No country has ever been better prepared for independence, Nicola Sturgeon asserted on Monday, and that may be true compared to those which have emerged from political collapse, violent insurrection, and war.

But as much as Ms Sturgeon wants you to believe it, the Conservative Party’s undeniable mess is not the same as the UK being in an unstoppable death spiral from which independence is the only escape.

And with years to think about how the new Scotland will step out into the world led by reputedly Britain’s best politician by far, we must surely take Ms Sturgeon at her word that everything is in place.

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Her 110-page economic plan was revealed on Monday, and the depth of the preparation was revealed on page 48.

Nicola Sturgeon launches the latest paper in the Building a New Scotland series (Picture: David Cheskin-Pool/Getty Images)Nicola Sturgeon launches the latest paper in the Building a New Scotland series (Picture: David Cheskin-Pool/Getty Images)
Nicola Sturgeon launches the latest paper in the Building a New Scotland series (Picture: David Cheskin-Pool/Getty Images)

“Setting credible and responsible fiscal rules, and demonstrating that there is a plan in place to meet them, is essential to ensuring market confidence in a newly independent Scotland,” it says, and who’d disagree after the turmoil following last month’s UK mini-budget?

So what’s the plan? “The decision on fiscal rules, and on the strategy for meeting them, would be for a future Scottish Government,” it concedes.

OK, no plan just now then, but the world’s best-prepared country must have an idea how those rules will be formed. They would apparently include the EU’s “Stability and Growth Pact” even though, by her own admission, the new country wouldn’t be an EU member for years.

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“We would propose, for the period before Scotland re-joins the EU, fiscal rules that were, as far as possible, aligned with the principles and the approach of any future EU Stability and Growth Pact,” it says, admitting they don’t know what any deal would contain.

Right, forget about the EU, what about the here and now, because the First Minster says we’ll be voting on this next year?

“No estimate of the fiscal starting position is set out in this document, given the uncertainty over the outlook for the global, UK, and Scottish economies,” it says.

In other words, the “best prepared country ever” doesn’t know how much money it will be playing with when Ms Sturgeon expects us to take the leap next October or in her “de facto” referendum/election less than a year after that.

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“It would be for the government of an independent Scotland to set out a clear pathway to ensuring overall fiscal sustainability and that fiscal targets are met,” it says. Quite, but this is an admission she can’t tell us now how the books will be balanced.

A new “fiscal rule” to limit borrowing would be set before independence and a “debt rule” on public spending would depend on negotiations with Westminster. For all this to be settled at some undefined time once the new government understood what the economy was like means new Scotland would be flying blind in the middle of global turbulence which could last years.

And on top of a hard trade border with England, and the quite deranged suggestion of borrowing in Sterling and paying back in new Scottish wampum, this Scottie dog’s breakfast makes the Kwarteng mini-budget look like the world’s best executed economic strategy.

Maybe it’s not back-of-a-fag packet, so let’s say a carton of 200. Or perhaps Ms Sturgeon knows it’s the best-prepared plan for the bucket.

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