Economy and currency paper for independent Scotland to be published next week

Speaking ahead of that, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said work on a Scottish central bank would begin immediately after a Yes vote.

Nicola Sturgeon
Nicola Sturgeon

The Scottish Government will publish a new paper setting out its plans for the economy and currency of an independent Scotland next week, Nicola Sturgeon has said.

In a media round on Friday ahead of the SNP conference, the First Minister told BBC Radio Scotland the paper would be released days after the party gathering and after arguments are made at the Supreme Court that could allow her Government to legislate for a second referendum.

Earlier this year, the First Minister said the Scottish Government would refresh the prospectus for an independent Scotland in a series of papers.

The details, Ms Sturgeon said on Friday, will be laid out in full when the paper is published, but she did reveal work on a Scottish central bank would begin immediately after a Yes vote, with the newly-independent country keeping the pound for “some time”, as had previously been stated.

She told the Good Morning Scotland programme: “In terms of setting up a central bank, we would start that process as soon as Scotland voted for independence.

“That central bank would be the provider of advice to the Scottish Government on these matters, it would be the lender of last resort for our financial services industry, it would require reserves that could cover these limited functions in that first period.

“We have said, and this is my party’s position, that we would move from using the pound, we would continue to use the pound after independence… and we would move to a Scottish pound when the economic conditions were right.”

When asked how long it would take for Scotland to move to the new currency, the First Minister said there would be key metrics that would have to be hit before the change, as opposed to a set timescale.

“It’s important that it’s guided by principles rather than fixed timescales,” she said.

The First Minister went on to say the economic issues faced by the UK in the last few weeks highlighted the need for “responsibility” and “good planning”.

She said: “People think the financial markets are abstract, but we’ve seen very clearly the impact on real people when the financial markets lose confidence.

“That underlines the importance of us, as we plan for independence, being careful, being responsible and understanding the detail of what we’re seeking to do.”

The announcement comes as the Scottish Government’s top law officer prepares to appear before the Supreme Court in a case that could allow Holyrood to legislate for an independence referendum.

The Lord Advocate referred prospective independence referendum legislation to the court in the summer, asking judges to decide if it is within the powers of Holyrood.

Oral arguments will take place on Tuesday and Wednesday next week, although there is no date for an announcement of the court’s judgment.

Asked if there would be enough time to legislate to hold a referendum on the Scottish Government’s preferred date of October 23 next year, and stage a campaign, Ms Sturgeon said she believes there would be.

Scottish Conservative constitution spokesman Donald Cameron said the announcement was “typical of Nicola Sturgeon’s skewed priorities”.

Nicola Sturgeon holding a paper on independence in Bute House
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said the prospectus for an independent Scotland will be laid out in a series of papers (Andrew Milligan/PA)

He added: “We are in the middle of a cost-of-living crisis, with families across the country struggling to make ends meet.

“Yet instead of telling us how they will help ordinary people right now, the SNP have kicked their emergency budget review down the road in favour of producing a self-indulgent and no doubt misleading paper on the economics of independence.

“From pensions to the deficit, the SNP have no credible ideas for how to run the economy in an independent Scotland.

“And the First Minister’s desperate suggestion today that an independent Scotland would somehow have avoided the global cost-of-living crisis that’s hitting every country in Europe is absurd.

“Nicola Sturgeon must drop these distracting and divisive plans for an unwanted second referendum, and start taking action on Scotland’s real priorities.”

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