Holyrood’s Finance Secretary has called for detailed currency talks with the Treasury as the debate over the future of the pound in an independent Scotland intensified.
John Swinney said the country would not be “shoved about” by the Chancellor, following his latest intervention on the future of Scotland’s money, and he accused George Osborne of pre-negotiating “by dictat” on the issue.
Meanwhile, the SNP’s political opponents insisted a currency union between an independent Scotland and the rest of the UK would not work and called on First Minister Alex Salmond to set out a back-up plan.
Mr Osborne declared last week that he would not be prepared to enter a currency union with an independent Scotland. Both Labour and the Liberal Democrats have indicated they are also opposed to such a union.
The arrangement is the Scottish Government’s preferred plan should Scots vote for independence in September. The SNP administration has already dismissed Mr Osborne’s speech as “bluff, bluster and bullying”.
Mr Salmond intends to “deconstruct” the Chancellor’s position on the issue when he addresses business leaders in Aberdeen today, arguing that Mr Osborne’s stance is “ill-thought-out and misinformed”.
Mr Swinney yesterday accused the Chancellor of bluffing, saying he had not addressed “the negative implications for the rest of the United Kingdom of his refusal to go down the route of a currency union”. He told the BBC’s Sunday Politics Scotland: “The Chancellor has got to think much more widely about the implications of this issue for the rest of the United Kingdom and come to a sensible and measured position. His contribution on Thursday could in no way have been described as sensible or measured.”
He said the Scottish Government’s preference for a currency union was in light of expert opinion taken from a range of international economists.