Gordon Brown shares a financial warning about independence
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon continued to push forward the SNP’s campaign for another referendum on Scottish independence and frequently expressed hope for joining the European Union. In the Brexit referendum in June 2016, Scotland voted by a convincing margin of 62% to 38% against leaving the EU. Ms Sturgeon and SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford took the opportunity to make the case for Scottish independence, arguing that Brexit happened “against the wishes” of the Scottish people.
Scotland’s ruling party and the Scottish Greens are currently drafting and publishing a joint government prospectus on independence to be put to Scots in 2023 as part of a drive to hold a new referendum next year.
But with the UK poised to pay the EU almost £40billion over several years in a Brexit divorce settlement, Scotland could end up with a much bigger bill. high, warned a leading political expert.
Alistair Jones, associate professor of politics at De Montfort University in Leicester, told Express.co.uk: “If Scotland’s move to independence is successful, it is highly likely that Scotland will have to take on a part of the UK’s debt burden.
“What’s not clear is how much it would cost, or how it could be done.
Nicola Sturgeon news: Scotland may have to pay huge sum to UK after independence
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“There could be an annual payment to help service the UK national debt and for that to be in place for a number of years.
“That could be something like £10billion a year, but that will depend on how much agreed inheritance the Scots should owe and how long the repayment will take.
“Alternatively, part of Britain’s national debt could be transferred to Scotland on gaining independence.
“An example is the split of Czechoslovakia, where debt, liabilities and assets were split 2:1 between the Czech Republic and Slovakia, based on population size.
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“If this pattern were followed, the split would be 11:1 between Scotland and the rest of the UK.
Prof Jones added: “If Britain’s national debt is around £2trillion, the 11:1 ratio will see the Scots take around £181billion.
“There will also be assets to consider (eg oil and gas) and these will need to be considered, along with any other liabilities (total UK liabilities, pre-Covid, were around 4 £.5 trillion).
“Still, there could be a decision to divide the debt as a proportion of GDP or as a proportion of government spending.”
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But the political pundit also urged caution on the matter and concluded: “All of this, however, is conjecture.
“Neither side will want to explore this issue until a successful independence vote has been achieved.
“Talking about such things, in advance, could undermine the Union’s case by simply acknowledging their possibility.
“Conversely, the size of the potential debt could scare off lukewarm separatist voters.”
Express.co.uk has contacted the SNP for comment.
Nicola Sturgeon news: Scottish independence could be extremely costly for the country
The latest forecast comes with Scottish nationalists warning that the impact of losing trade with the UK after independence would be up to three times more costly to the country’s economy than Brexit.
Dr Thomas Sampson, Associate Professor of Economics at the London School of Economics (LSE), wrote in The Herald: “Cross-border trade and investment would inevitably become more expensive after independence, making it more difficult for businesses Scottish to do business with the rest. from the United Kingdom and the increase in Scottish import prices.
“The rest of the UK currently accounts for almost two-thirds of Scotland’s trade, a much larger share than the size and proximity of the two countries can account for.
“At least part of this trade surplus is caused by the political and economic union between Scotland and England. Independence would weaken cross-border integration, leading to higher trade costs.
“The impact of the loss of trade after independence would be two to three times more costly to the Scottish economy than Brexit.
“And that is true whether or not an independent Scotland joins the EU.
“The reason for these findings is simple. The value of Scotland’s trade with the rest of the UK is around three times that of its trade with the EU.
“Avoiding trade barriers within the UK is therefore more important to the Scottish economy than reducing trade costs with the EU.”