An independent Scotland’s sums don’t add up, the head of business organisation the CBI claims today.
John Cridland, CBI Director-General, said Scottish Government’s economic plan would not balance the books, even taking into account oil and gas revenues.
He is the latest in a string of influential figures south of the border to criticise plans for Scotland to go it alone. But here in the North East, a regional expert says greater Scottish autonomy could actually bring us benefits.
The CBI raised concerns about Scotland’s deficit reduction plan which, it says, is already large and more volatile than the rest of the UK.
It also highlighted questions over the currency it would adopt and future relations with the European Union after the White Paper on Scotland’s independence - put to the vote on September 18 - was published.
The CBI said it failed to provide a coherent vision for how it would be better off economically from putting up barriers with the UK.
Mr Cridland said: “The minute you draw a line between Gretna and Berwick, Scotland starts to drift apart from its biggest market and loses a significant amount of economic clout. The economic plan outlined in the White Paper does not add up. It ignores the need for deficit reduction, instead promising more unfunded spending.
“Independence would force Scotland’s major industries to grapple with two lots of red tape and lead to Scots facing higher borrowing costs on loans, mortgages and credit cards. Keeping the pound is the best option for Scotland but that is only on offer through maintaining the union. The main UK political parties have ruled out currency union as an option, so we’re calling on the Scottish Government to set out a credible plan B.
“An independent Scotland would also have to negotiate hard to get back into the EU, temporarily losing access to the world’s biggest trade area with huge economic consequences.”
But Professor Jonathan Blackie, who is discussing the issue in a public lecture at Northumbria University today titled: ‘Can the North East benefit from greater Scottish autonomy?’. disagreed. His talk will focus on the relationship between the North and Scotland. Professor Blackie, a visiting professor at Northumbria, said: “Whatever the outcome of the referendum on independence, it is likely that Scotland will continue down the road of devolution, providing a strong voice, considerable autonomy over the management of Scottish affairs, and significant flexibility over the use of the various resources at the disposal of the Scottish Government. There is a strong relationship between Scotland and the North East as the North East is Scotland’s most important customer in some ways.
“We’ve moved on from the sense that there was envy and resentment coming from the North of England to a position where we actually find there is a lot of appreciation from North of the border of our assets, our strong customer base and strong trading links.”
Professor Blackie’s talk will draw on his experience as the senior civil servant in the North East, including the referendum in 2004 which considered the creation of an Elected Regional Assembly for the region.