There have been quite a few implied threats to independence thrown out ("Fresh doubt cast on SNP plans to keep the pound", The Herald, December 14 & Letters, December 12, 13 and 14).
These have mostly been about Scotland not being able to join the EU and now Scotland not being able to retain the pound.
As someone who believes Scotland would be best served by having its own currency, the prospect of not retaining the pound does not cause me undue disquiet. Nor does the prospect of delayed EU membership while the Union continues to suffer from a self-imposed austerity crisis. But I do wonder if those who are throwing out these prospects really understand the implications of them.
The argument that Scotland would not remain in the EU or be able to retain the pound seems to be based on the premise that Scotland will not be a successor state to the UK. This seems doubtful to me, but for the sake of argument let's assume it to be the case. Only successor states inherit assets and liabilities. If Scotland is not a successor state it will not take on any of the UK Government's debt. It could agree to take some as part of negotiations, of course, but it would have to receive something else in return. I find it impossible to imagine the UK Government being willing to let Scotland take on none of the debt (though it was forced to grant this to Ireland), so in the event that Scotland is not a successor state it will certainly receive considerable concessions elsewhere.
Those who claim Scotland will receive all of the downsides of being a successor state without actually being one are the ones living in a fantasy.
2F Killermont View,
The Scottish Government is wise to explore with the UK Government currency arrangements after independence. During a transition period it is essential that the money in our banks and pockets, which were issued in sterling, are available to buy goods across the UK.
It is inconceivable that the UK Government would wish trade between Scotland and England to be precipitately broken to mutual disadvantage. Therefore a transitional deal on currency union, and use of sterling in Scotland, is inevitable, although negotiations could be tough.
Mark Allen is correct to point out in the longer run "Scotland would surely have to issue its own currency" (The Herald, December 14). Among the reasons he gives are guarantees over bank liquidity for RBS and HBOS, although it is questionable how much these remain "Scottish" banks. Other reasons such as diverging economic priorities over time are more cogent.
There is little to fear and much to gain from taking full control of Scottish monetary policy after independence. This does not mean that a form of currency union could not continue for some considerable time if Scotland and the rest of Britain saw mutual advantage.
In Ireland an Irish pound was introduced in 1928 but a currency union was maintained with sterling until 1978 when Ireland joined the European Monetary System.
In contrast, in 1992 when the Czechoslovak split, both Slovakia and the Czech Republic issued currencies exchangable at a par with each other and within a few years their values diverged as they floated on international exchanges. It is notable that neither Slovakia nor the Czech Republic suffered disruption from a currency separation which took place in under a year.
Mark Allen also points out Scotland has a GDP per head 17.6% higher than the UK and has a significantly lower fiscal deficit. He concludes there are no "insurmountable" economic barriers to independence.
10 Prospecthill Road, Glasgow.
Clearly the SNP has always recognised the need for negotiations. Much is also made of the fact that Scotland would be expelled from the EU in the event of a Yes vote, resulting in the need for re-application as a new state.
Given that we would remain as part of the UK until the 2016 elections – this period being used for the necessary negotiations with Westminster, underpinned by the Edinburgh Agreement – we would also remain a member of the EU during this period.
Would I be wrong in thinking this gives two years to embark on parallel negotiations regarding our European future? From the inside?
Calling to mind the smooth transition that allowed the DDR to rejoin West Germany as part of the European Union, I don't find it unreasonable to expect a similar transition could, and would, be made available to Scotland.
The EU is nothing if not pragmatic, and I believe politics will play more of a part in these issues than points of law.
62 South Mains Road,
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