Nicola Sturgeon: Scotland can now not depend on Westminster’s financial stewardship
The author is first minister of Scotland
Through the Scottish referendum marketing campaign in 2014, individuals in Scotland had been informed that if we voted No to independence, we may depend on the steadiness of Westminster’s stewardship of the financial system.
That message of stability, based because it was on the UK’s supposed financial power (of which EU membership was a key half) dominated the messaging of anti-independence politicians. Nevertheless, even on the time, the UK was already demonstrating what has turn into its defining financial traits — low progress, low productiveness and deep inequality.
Because of the disastrous choice to depart the EU — towards the needs of the overwhelming majority of individuals in Scotland — this inherently weak and unstable financial mannequin appears now to be hardwired into the UK’s future.
The Financial institution of England is warning that the UK is about to enter the longest recession for the reason that Nineteen Thirties, and its evaluation clearly exhibits that particular “UK elements” are making issues worse. A type of is undoubtedly Brexit. But, regardless of rising proof of the hurt it’s doing, not one of the most important UK events is asking for its reversal. Certainly, the Labour chief Keir Starmer is now at one with the UK authorities on the problem. Labour has turn into a pro-Brexit occasion with a pro-Brexit chief.
That merely confirms what has now been obvious for a while: the one means for Scotland to regain EU membership and the financial advantages it brings is as an unbiased nation. Since 2016, assist for EU membership in Scotland has climbed increased nonetheless. Certainly it appears to be on the rise now in England too. Labour’s conspiracy of silence on Brexit is subsequently not solely deeply damaging economically, however by the point the subsequent basic election comes spherical might show to be a profound strategic mistake.
It’s beneath these darkening Brexit clouds that the chancellor, Jeremy Hunt, will this week ship his Autumn Assertion. On condition that he has already warned of choices of “eye-watering issue”, we are able to make sure that large cuts to public spending, in addition to vital tax rises, are on the best way. There was a lot discuss of the necessity to fill a so-called “black gap” within the UK’s public funds of maybe £40bn to £55bn — figures which have been made worse by wrong-headed political selections and are based mostly on unsure forecasts of deliver down debt as a share of gross home product.
Additionally it is very important to keep in mind that any additional cuts will come as public providers are nonetheless recovering from the final interval of austerity and from Covid-19, and as they’re scuffling with the influence of inflation. The finances of the Scottish authorities, for instance, is value £1.7bn lower than when it was set in December on account of inflation, but we’ve not acquired a single extra penny from the UK authorities.
Fiscal sustainability is, in fact, important, however hammering public providers with a brand new wave of austerity is more likely to extend the recession and make long-term sustainability more durable to attain. When the millstone of Brexit and the house secretary’s enthusiasm for lowering immigration are added to the combo, any prospects for progress look even bleaker.
It’s towards this backdrop that the Scottish authorities is renewing its financial case for independence. Now we have set out how an unbiased Scotland may thrive beneath a brand new financial mannequin, based mostly on our plentiful renewable vitality sources, a brand new social partnership method, better office rights, a migration coverage tailor-made to our wants and turning into a member of the EU in our personal proper, inside an enormous single market which, by inhabitants, is seven occasions the dimensions of the UK.
We’ve set out plans for a £20bn funding fund, utilizing borrowing powers and the oil revenues that can stay whereas we make the transition away from fossil fuels, to kick-start progress in a newly unbiased nation.
There are not any ensures of success. However it’s instructive that unbiased European nations akin to Scotland such because the Nordics, Eire, Austria and Switzerland have increased nationwide incomes per head and decrease inequality than the UK.
There’ll in fact be vital transition points for us to confront and work by way of and we’ve set out proposals that can allow a transfer from the low-growth, high-inequality UK financial mannequin to a greater unbiased future.
We don’t know the element of what’s to be within the chancellor’s assertion on Thursday, however one factor is already clear — to construct a extra affluent and fairer future, Scottish independence will not be solely fascinating, it’s now important.