Monday 25 September 2017

Independent Scotland 'can forge its own prosperity'

Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond, and deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, at the launch of the referendum white paper on independence in Glasgow.
Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond, and deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, at the launch of the referendum white paper on independence in Glasgow.

Belinda Goldsmith, Glasgow

The Scottish government unveiled its long-awaited vision for independence yesterday.

The plan includes promises to Scots that they could forge their own prosperity but keep the pound and the Queen if they vote next year to end a 306-year-old union with England.

With separatists lagging in opinion polls, First Minister Alex Salmond said an independent Scotland would take charge of its own finances, raising taxes and spending revenues from North Sea oil and gas reserves as it sees fit.

Launching a 670-page blueprint for independence, he said the country would also run its own defence force, expelling nuclear submarines from Scotland, while a new publicly funded broadcaster would form a joint venture on content with the BBC.

But it would also seek to preserve major bonds with the United Kingdom, including the British pound and the monarchy, and remain a member of the European Union and NATO.

"We know we have the people, the skills and resources to make Scotland a more successful country," Mr Salmond told a news conference. "Scotland's future is now in Scotland's hands."

The "landmark paper" was released 10 months before the single vote on independence for Scotland's five million people, and after a weekend opinion poll suggested the gap in support between the 'Yes' and 'No' camps is narrowing.

The poll for the 'Sunday Times' newspaper showed 38pc of Scots backed quitting the UK, with 47pc opposing it and 15pc undecided. With so many Scots yet to make up their minds, pro-union leaders have warned against complacency.

ALTERNATIVES

The weighty prospectus immediately came under fire for being big on political promises but short on detail, with important elements needing approval from outside Scotland and no alternatives given if Scotland did not get its own way.

Mr Salmond, feisty leader of the Scottish National Party, which dominates the devolved Scottish parliament, has put economic gains at the heart of his case for independence -- to start on March 24, 2016, the anniversary of the 1707 Act of Union.

Irish Independent

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