Stark warning to Scotland on move to break from UK
Published 13/01/2012 | 05:00
THE British Chancellor George Osborne last night issued a stark warning that Scotland would be worse off if it broke away from the United Kingdom.
Mr Osborne, who chairs the Cabinet's Scotland committee, also refused to say whether an independent Scotland would be allowed to retain the pound.
He made clear, however, that Scotland would have to take on its share of the national debt and he questioned whether it would be able to bail out its banks in the event of a financial collapse.
"I don't think Scotland would be as prosperous as it would be as part of the UK," he told ITV News.
"If you look at the scale of the national debt for example that Scotland would have to take if it became independent, if you look at the fact it has an important banking industry as we know and you ask yourself 'Would Scotland alone have been able to bail out the Royal Bank of Scotland or Halifax Bank of Scotland?"'
His comments came after First Minister Alex Salmond declared an independent Scotland would not be prepared to share exposure to RBS's toxic assets.
Mr Salmond has also said that while an independent Scotland would join the euro, initially it would retain the pound.
But pressed on whether he would allow Scotland to keep sterling, Mr Osborne replied: "That is not the currency I'd be wanting to join at a time like this."
Yesterday Mr Salmond also insisted that he has every interest in reaching a consensus on the staging of a referendum on Scottish independence.
The First Minister declared the position after a morning of highly-charged debate at the Scottish Parliament.
Speaking during question time at Holyrood, Mr Salmond said he has "every interest in making sure we have a consensus on the process" of a referendum.
"I am anxious, like I hope every other member in this chamber is, to get to the nub of the argument, to let the Scottish people decide their own future," he added.
A new poll conducted by YouGov for the 'Sun' newspaper put support for independence at 33pc, with 53pc against and 14pc undecided.
Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson said: "Every opinion poll ever published shows that the people of Scotland agree with me -- Scotland is better off in Britain."