An odd thing about the Scottish Government is they don’t really say anything about business or economics. Yes, there are platitudes about inclusive growth and the green economy, the setting up of task forces and the odd lunatic diversion into ferry building and airport owning but nothing well – you know – real. What do Nicola Sturgeon and Kate Forbes think about the economy? What is their vision for the future? I don’t know, perhaps they don’t know.

What they do instead is sub-contract their thinking on the economy to Andrew Wilson, who headed up the Growth Commission they appointed to set out the economic stall for a separate Scotland. This is probably a wise move because Andrew Wilson is nice, reassuring, sensible, plausible – like your favourite uncle.

Andrew Wilson’s latest contribution is, however, rather puzzling because under the umbrella of saying people need the facts he produces non-facts, carefully crafted arguments which seem oh-so-reasonable but just don’t stand scrutiny.

He encourages us to emulate Denmark, a country often held up by the SNP as the one for us to aspire to. It’s a lovely idea - who wouldn’t want to wake up surrounded by the cast of Borgen? But we get the fuzzy vision, not the hard facts. Denmark has for many years (the Covid pandemic will cause a blip) run both a trade surplus and a budget surplus. In 2019 the Danish budget surplus was 3.7 per cent of gross domestic product. Scotland’s most recently published deficit was more than 8%. To get to the level required to join the EU a separate Scotland would need to improve by over £10 billion, to be as good as the Danes we would need to improve by over £20bn – about £4,000 for every person in Scotland every year – and that is before the huge disruption to our economy which disengaging from the UK would cause.

If we want to re-join the EU we could not borrow more money. So which would it be if we wanted to be like the Danes – eye-watering austerity or massive tax rises – or both?

Silly soundbite aspirations are hopeless – people need to know the effect if we left the UK and joined the EU – it’s not project Fear it’s project Real.

The other reassuring nonsense we hear is about how our currency and banking system would operate if we were a separate country. SNP policy is to cling to the pound for a bit, then create our own currency for a bit and then we have to join the euro.

Sounds a bit complex and far-fetched – and who wants to receive their pension in Groats? but what we are told is that in the transition period Scotland’s new central bank “will not have the full responsibilities of the Bank of England, just like national central banks inside the eurozone do not”. We are assured that on matters of currency and monetary policy there will be “no immediate change”.

This is simply untrue. Leave aside the slight problem that Scotland doesn’t really have any indigenous banks anymore and focus instead on the big fib that nothing would change if we separated from the UK in terms of currency and monetary policy.

It is true that in the eurozone the national central banks no longer have responsibility for monetary policy – setting interest rates, being the lender of last resort to the eurozone banks and providing support to economic activity. The key point is, however, that another institution – the European Central Bank – does have those responsibilities. The ECB knows it is directly responsible for policy in every eurozone country.

Under the SNP’s plan the Bank of England would have no such responsibility for Scotland and nothing would take its place. Like some banana republic we would still use the pound but it would not be our currency and we would have no proper central bank standing behind us.

We need less smooth words from the SNP and more hard facts. Scotland gains enormously by being part of the UK single market and monetary union and by having an effective central bank which knows its job includes supporting the Scottish economy – but what do you think Nicola?

Guy Stenhouse is a Scottish financial sector veteran who wrote formerly

as Pinstripe.