Nicola Sturgeon handed brutal warning as independent Scotland WOULD face currency crisis
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And Joe Ray believes if the SNP succeeds in forcing a second referendum on the subject, pro-Union activists should put the issue at the heart of their campaign. Mr Ray, a regular contributor to the Sceptical Scot website, was speaking after the publication of a poll suggesting a drop in support for Scottish independence – although YouGov’s survey of 1,089 people interviewed between November 6 and 10 still indicated a narrow 51/49 split in favour. The SNP continues to push for a so-called IndyRef2 with party activists believing a strong performance in next year’s Holyrood elections would bolster their case significantly.
A pro-UK campaign when it comes to financial issues and economic issues can focus on bread-and-butter issues
If they succeed, Mr Ray believes those opposed to the idea of Scotland breaking away should adopt more focus on brass tacks as a way of countering the broad nationalism of First Minister Nicola Sturgeon’s party.
He told Express.co.uk: “The SNP wants a campaign based around the future of Scotland, being a positive, progressive, European nation – they want to keep it at a really high level.
“But what the currency issue does, and the prospect of the risk that it will induce for everyone’s personal finances, is it means things like people’s mortgages, people’s mortgage repayments, the weekly grocery shop, the importance of that, and how much that could increase, people’s pensions, people’s savings, debts – all these will become centre-stage.
“A pro-UK campaign when it comes to financial issues and economic issues can focus on bread-and-butter issues.
“That is what this strategy offers. ‘If Scotland leaves the UK and we have a new currency, will that send prices flying?’ Same with utility bills, train fares – all these are very emotive issues.
“It brings the whole campaign down to day-to-day, bread-and-butter political issues.
“They want to have a big campaign focused on why Scotland needs to be independent, the grand future we can have.
“We are bringing it right down to the actual reality of it, and how it will impact people directly.
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“When we are talking about somebody’s mortgage we are talking about their home, their family, their future.”
Ms Sturgeon herself would be very keen to avoid too many awkward questions which focused on specifics, Mr Ray suggested.
He added: “I think Nicola Sturgeon wants a campaign that frankly avoids this issue, hence the reason for their ‘sterlingisation’ plan.
“The ‘sterlingisation’ plan is simply a scheme whereby they can say Scotland will keep the pound and there will be no problems with mortgages, pensions etc.
“They believe they can only really win by promising to keep things largely the same.
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“Scots are broadly cautious and you just have to look at the polls – the vast majority think we should keep the pound, even the vast majority of separatists.
“So it is incredibly unpopular and once the actual reality comes into the public domain it will become even more unpopular.
“They do not want to be arguing about a Scottish currency.”
Mr Ray said the campaign strategy could be framed around one simple question: “What currency will I be repaying my mortgage in – the pound or the groat?”
He explained: “If a campaign is built around that particular question, I think we stand a much better chance of keeping the UK together.
“The key thing really is that if everyone’s income, everyone’s benefits, everyone’s pensions are paid in a brand new currency, you’ve got a big problem because everyone will still hold debts in sterling – what will now be a foreign currency.
“So it impacts everyone with any debts of any type, it impacts every company, every public institution, local authorities, public infrastructure projects, you name it, it is all affected by this.
“And because it is such a risk, and because of the potential for the currency devaluing, I think it has the potential to be a very potent campaign message in a way that we have not used before.”
Mr Ray said: “The SNP does have a currency plan – but it involves using the UK but using sterling.
“But using sterling without access to a central bank – so it is sterlingisation. It is incredibly risky.”
He added: “On the face of it a Scottish currency would be practical in the sense that there would be a central bank, it would also meet the European Union’s membership criteria and so it can work. It is just a question of what the consequences of that mean.
“If there was a brand new currency, well we don’t have any money to finance a currency peg, so we cannot fix the value of the currency to sterling or the euro.
“A new currency peg would probably cost at least £50 or £60 billion to finance and even then currency pegs can be broke if the economic fundamentals are not strong enough.
“So a new Scottish currency is feasible – but it is not very popular.”
Express.co.uk has contacted the SNP to ask them about Mr Ray’s comments.
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