THE SNP’s Growth Commission was set up to promote a new Scottish currency but then “changed tack” and backed keeping the pound, a former MP has claimed.

George Kerevan said the “surprising” change of heart meant that, if the plans was adopted, an independent Scotland would remain “saddled” with sterling and yoked to the UK economy.

Mr Kerevan, SNP MP for East Lothian from 2015 to 2017, gives a behind-the-scenes account of the start of the Commission in the new Scottish Left Review.

The Commission's report, largely written by corporate lobbyist Andrew Wilson, advocates keeping the pound for at least a decade after a Yes vote in an informal currency union.

The report also says public spending should growth very slowly in order to halve the deficit.

The plan has infuriated many on the left of the SNP, and been described by the respected Institute for Fiscal Studies as a continuation of current austerity measures.

Mr Kerevan revealed that after Nicola Sturgeon announced the Commission in late 2016, he and two other SNP MPs with backgrounds in economics met Mr Wilson to discuss it.

He wrote: “Andrew explained that the primary task of the Commission - given the imminent likelihood of a second referendum - was to provide a fresh and robust set of economic arguments supporting independence.

“In particular, we had to replace the notion of a sterling union with the rest of Britain - a position which was seen as having been a major reason we lost the 2014 referendum.

“As I remember, it was taken for granted that the Commission was there to justify a switch to a separate Scottish currency and a break with sterling.”

However, the Commission “changed tack” after the 2017 general election, and when it was published in May, Mr Kerevan said that “surprisingly (given earlier discussions), the report proposes that an independent Scotland keep sterling unilaterally for at least a decade.”

He said that was technically feasible but would “leave the SNP back where it started in 2014, with interest rates, mortgage rates, and the external exchange rate determined by the Bank of England”, tying the Scottish economy to the UK’s.

An SNP source said Mr Kerevan may have “misunderstood” the Commission’s remit, which was to “consider the most appropriate monetary policy arrangements to underpin a programme for sustainable growth in an independent Scotland”.

It was therefore not fixed on a new currency, but explored a range of options, and concluded that a new currency could not be achieved overnight.