General election: Sturgeon’s policy doesn’t stand up to scrutiny – Ian Murray

Andrew Neil’s grilling of Nicola Sturgeon would have been an uncomfortable watch for supporters of independence, says Ian Murray

Thursday, 28th November 2019, 6:00 am
Andrew Neil gave Nicola Sturgeon a tough time during their interview. Picture: BBC

FEW politicians emerge unscathed following an interview with BBC veteran Andrew Neil. Nicola Sturgeon is no exception, with a short clip of her being told about the SNP’s failure to run our NHS going viral. It was all very accurate.

Too often, those on the left of politics in England fall for the First Minister’s claims that she is a progressive politician. This interview will have gone some way to recalibrating views of her among the Westminster commentariat.

Of course, there has never been anything progressive about the SNP’s support for breaking up the UK.

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Ian Murray is the Labour MP for Edinburgh South

It is not progressive to put tens of thousands of jobs at risk, cut public spending, or build barriers between countries.

Nicola Sturgeon’s fantasy economics have now been exposed.

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Nicola Sturgeon: Independent Scotland can apply to join EU without own currency

“We would have a discussion with the EU about the journey an independent Scotland was on in terms of currency,” she said. A journey is one way of putting it. But it’s a journey that we don’t have to take.

It’s not easy to explain the SNP’s currency policy, but I’ll try.

First, it’s to do away with our British pound with all the chaos that will cause for businesses and the economy, and the risk it will cause for people’s salaries and pensions.

Then it’s to introduce a new Scottish currency, which will require billions of pounds in reserves – meaning a huge cut to public services will be required, taxes will have to soar, and borrowing will be eye watering.

Then it’s to agree to tell EU leaders that a separate Scotland will sign up to the euro, but actually refuse to abide by the EU’s rules by joining. That will go down well in Brussels!

Here’s a simpler idea: let’s stay in the UK and keep the pound.

Wild claims

And then there’s the issue of Scotland’s deficit – which at seven per cent of GDP is the largest in Europe. The UK equivalent is 1.1 per cent. In reality, it’s just a notional deficit north of the Border because we’re part of the UK and resources are pooled and shared. So, we all benefit from economic growth in London in particular.

That wouldn’t be the case if Scotland became independent, as was pointed out to Nicola Sturgeon by Andrew Neil.

In that scenario, Scotland would have to dramatically reduce its public spending on schools, hospitals and other services, and raise taxes, to reduce its deficit. The EU requires a maximum of three per cent of GDP. Don’t forget that meeting these rules would also be attempted by using someone else’s currency – the British pound. The First Minister couldn’t explain how she would do this.

It was very reminiscent of the wild claims made by Boris Johnson and others about Brexit. The fantasy economics are two sides of the same coin but with the same results – a loss of jobs and a diminished economy.

I repeat: it is not progressive to put tens of thousands of jobs at risk, cut public spending, or build barriers between countries. That applies to Brexit as much as independence.

Brexit will devastate the local economy here in Edinburgh and independence or even another independence referendum will make matters much worse. That’s why I have been leading the campaign in Scotland for a final say on Brexit and the Labour policy will put the decision to the people. I will campaign relentlessly to remain in the EU as it is in our national interest. It is also in our national interest to stay in the UK.

I’m for a Scotland in the UK and a UK in the EU. We should be building bridges, not barriers.

Ian Murray is the Labour candidate for Edinburgh South