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Sturgeon urges No campaign to answer 50 key poll questions

DEPUTY First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has published a list of 50 questions she argues the No campaign must answer before September's independence referendum.

CONSEQUENCES: Nicola Sturgeon seeks answers from No campaign.

She said the campaign to keep Scotland in the UK needed to provide more detail about the consequences of a No vote.

Among the questions, the Deputy First Minister asked what extra powers would be guaranteed for Holyrood if Scots rejected independence.

She also demanded to know if the Barnett Formula - the controversial funding mechanism which allocates public spending to ­Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland - would survive in the event of No vote.

In a third question, looking ahead to David Cameron's proposed in/out referendum on Europe, she asked if there were any guarantees Scotland would still be in the EU in 2020.

The 50 questions Sturgeon says the No Campaign must answer

Ms Sturgeon, the minister responsible for the SNP's referendum strategy, said: "The Scottish Government has published a detailed, 670-page guide to an independent Scotland, including answers to 650 questions.

"In the interests of a fair, balanced and fully informed debate, it is essential there is an equivalent amount of detail from those arguing for a No vote."

Referring to her "crunch ­questions", she added: "These issues and many more highlight why it is essential we achieve a Yes vote in September."

The list of questions follows a keynote speech by Ms Sturgeon at St Andrews University last week. Opening a new front in the referendum debate, she claimed a No vote in September carried greater risks than supporting independence.

Among other questions posed yesterday, she asked what the UK's level of national debt would be in 2016; whether an oil fund would be established; how many service personnel would be based in Scotland in 2020; and how much taxpayers in Scotland would need to contribute to a new generation of nuclear weapons.

But Drew Smith, Scottish Labour's constitutional spokesman, dismissed the list.

He said: "By proposing to break up the United Kingdom, the SNP are introducing risk and uncertainty to our future and still can't answer basic questions about our currency, our EU memberships and our pensions.

"Ms Sturgeon is wilfully confusing basic functions of an independent state with decisions by future governments in a desperate bid to cover up for her own lack of answers."

Ms Sturgeon spoke out as ­Scottish Secretary Alistair ­Carmichael unveiled a "top 20" list of reasons to stay in the UK.

Outlining key benefits, which included continued use of the UK pound, was seen as an attempt to make a more positive case for the Union following criticism of the No campaign's negativity.

However, the LibDem Cabinet minister also used his keynote speech at Stirling University to launch a stinging attack on the Scottish Government's White Paper. Dismissing Ms Sturgeon's claim that the 670-page blueprint amounted to a detailed guide, he said: "We got a set of promises that the Scottish Government can't deliver.

"The Nationalists like to assert that they have a vision for an independent Scotland and that their White Paper is its articulation. It is not. This is not a vision; it is a mirage. Like all mirages, the closer you get the less real it becomes. There is no vision, just 670 pages of words."

Mr Carmichael rejected the SNP's claim that an independent Scotland could forge a currency union with the rest of the UK.

He also dismissed claims a newly independent Scottish state would be fast-tracked into the EU and retain the same membership perks as the UK.

In another attack on the Scottish Government, Mr Carmichael called on ministers to bring forward plans to expand free child care rather than waiting for a Yes vote.

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