Where’s the money coming from, Nicola? SNP wants UK to keep forking out AFTER independence
Nicola Sturgeon blasted for endless quest for independence
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First Minister Nicola Sturgeon will continue her drive to position Scotland as an independent nation this week as she sets out her long-term Covid plan, expected to differ from those of Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who has removed almost all restrictions. At 2pm on Tuesday, Ms Sturgeon is expected to warn that “Covid-safe behaviours” must continue to be observed in Scotland, including face-coverings, one-way systems and online learning.
Ms Sturgeon promised a return to the fight for Scottish independence once the country had emerged from the pandemic, saying in 2021 that her priority was protecting public health from Covid.
Now, however, it appears the First Minister is planning to roll two goals into one, using the ongoing threat from coronavirus to aid the drive for greater autonomy and an eventual second referendum on independence known as Indyref2.
Under Mr Johnson’s plans for England, self-isolation and free testing will be scrapped as part of the “living with Covid” plan.
Scotland, as a devolved nation, will set out its own plan, but is still calling on the UK Government to provide the funding for it.
In the House of Commons on Monday, the Scottish National Party (SNP)’s Ian Blackford demanded the Government provide more money to Scotland to continue the testing programme.
He said: “Will the Prime Minister now confirm what the residual funding for testing will be to enable the Scottish Government to pick up the pieces of this chaotic withdrawal of support?
“It makes the case for Scotland to take necessary measures to keep our people safe.
“We need the financial ability to make our own choices. That only comes with independence.”
It’s not only health measures the Scottish Government will expect cash for if independence was achieved.
Earlier this month, Scottish Finance Secretary Kate Forbes and Mr Blackford claimed that state pensions would continue to be paid by the UK Government if Scotland left the union.
Mr Blackford told Scotland’s Choice podcast that “absolutely nothing” would happen to pensions in the event of independence.
He said: “Those who have contributed to the UK have an entitlement for a pension…
“So that commitment to continue to pay pensions rests with the UK Government.
“That’s no different to a UK citizen that chooses — for example — to live in Canada, or Spain, or France, or anywhere else.”
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A UK Government source hit back: “It is incredible that the SNP are making these claims. They are treating the people of Scotland like fools.”
UK pensions minister Guy Opperman accused the SNP of misleading voters over pensions.
He said: “If Scotland chooses to become a foreign country, then working English, Welsh and Northern Irish taxpayers should not pay for a foreign country’s pension liabilities.
“That has been the position of the UK Government since before the 2014 referendum.
“Nicola Sturgeon and Ian Blackford are, once again, misleading Scots.”
It was pointed out by political commentators that pensions are paid for by taxes each year, not dug out from an old pot that pensioners have paid into through their lives.
Meanwhile, doubts are emerging as to how Scotland would be able to support itself financially in the event of independence.
Indeed, a damning report from the London School of Economics (LSE) in 2021 showed Scotland’s economy would shrink by at least £11billion a year if it became independent — more than double the impact of Brexit.
The study also showed that Scotland joining the EU as an independent nation would do little to offset that hit.
The LSE report said: “The costs of independence to the Scottish economy are likely to be two or three times larger than the costs of Brexit, and rejoining the EU following independence would do little to mitigate these costs.”
It adds: “From a trade perspective, independence would leave Scotland considerably poorer than staying in the United Kingdom.”
Other estimates are even more frightening. Ben Harris-Quinney, chairman of the Bow Group think tank, warned Scotland could be left owing the UK a staggering £380billion on total liabilities if it left the union.
He told Express.co.uk this would largely come down to Scotland inheriting its share of the UK national debt, and managing the expenses of “several major UK assets in Scottish territory like North Sea oil/gas, military bases, and Crown territory”.
He added that, while the costs of all the elements involved following independence are difficult to predict with total accuracy, due to the variables being “too great”, the costs to the Scottish economy would likely be “very high”.
Mr Harris-Quinney said: “Twenty percent of Scottish citizens are considered to be living in poverty, and its total national economy of £150billion is worth less than a quarter of London’s economy.
“As an individual nation, it would likely be poorer than countries like Romania or the Czech Republic.”
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