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Swinney wants 'ludicrous' claim that Pakistan is a richer nation retracted

BETTER Together must withdraw its "ludicrous claim" that Pakistan is richer than Scotland, Scottish Finance Secretary John Swinney has demanded.

A No campaign document entitled The Facts You Need states that an independent Scotland would be the 45th richest country in the world, behind Pakistan and Finland, compared with the UK which is sixth. Mr Swinney said Westminster politicians "are deliberately talking down the Scottish economy".

He called on the No campaign "to withdraw its ludicrous claim that Pakistan is richer than Scotland", publishing "10 key strengths" of the economy over and above North Sea oil.

They include the £13 billion food and drink sector, £6bn tourism industry, 20 per cent of Europe's fish, £15bn in manufacturing, £1.9bn life sciences sector, £5bn in creative industries, the most top universities per head of population in the world, a £3.6bn ICT sector and inward investment at a 16-year high.

Better Together said all of these successes have come "because we are part of the UK, not in spite of it".

Mr Swinney said: "A Yes vote is the greatest opportunity we will ever have to ensure the vast wealth of Scotland benefits all the people who live here. Industry estimates of up to 24 billion barrels of oil still to come represent a huge bonus but the No campaign act as if this windfall means Scotland has been visited by some dreadful curse.

"Without a single penny in revenue from the North Sea, the amount of tax we generate from our economy is, in the words of the UK Government, 'roughly the same' per head as the UK as a whole.

"Even without oil revenue Scotland is a strong and diverse economy with the potential to generate a more secure future and greater job opportunities.

"For decades the Westminster parties have down-played the strength of our economy and now they are reduced to distortion with their ridiculous comparisons."

A Better Together spokesman said: "All of Scotland's key industries - from financial services to food and drink, and from our universities to renewable energy - thrive because we are part of the UK, not in spite of it.

"Being part of the UK single market sustains hundreds of thousands of jobs in Scotland. We trade more with the rest of the UK than we do with the rest of the world combined, with barrier free access to a market of 63 million people in the UK. Where is the sense in putting up barriers between Scottish firms and their customers elsewhere in the UK?"

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