SCOTS would be using a new currency within “a couple of months” of independence, one of the SNP leadership candidates has claimed. 

Ash Regan said much of the infrastructure required could be set up in advance under devolution - then admitted she didn’t know if that included a central bank.

Her rival Humza Yousaf said people would lose trust in a party that proposed schemes that "lack credibility".

The Scottish Tories said the idea that a Government that was six years late building two ferries could deliver a new currency within months was "fantasy".

Ms Regan today said she would take an independent Scotland to a new currency “as fast as is practicable”, one of the few policies she shares with the Scottish Greens.

She said overnight: “I think the best option for Scotland is for us to move as quickly as is practicable to our own currency. I also believe that if we prepare properly before we have a vote on Independence then the timescale for implementing a currency can be short.

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“If we want the public to have the courage to choose independence then they must see us having the courage to do what it takes to make a successful nation. 

“I don't believe that continually deliberating about when we will get round to introducing our own currency shows that courage.”

The SNP’s 2018 Growth Commission suggested it could take a decade to adopt a new currency, while SNP policy is currently to have one “as soon as practicable” subject to a series of economic tests which internal critics suspect would never be satisfied.

Ms Regan also revealed she had been working with economist and SNP member Dr Tim Rideout of the Scottish Currency Group.

Dr Rideout was suspended by the SNP last year for suggesting then Home Secretary Priti Patel should be “sent back to Uganda”, but was later readmitted.

Before the 2014 referendum, Alex Salmond said an independent Scotland should keep the pound, but the idea was shot down by the Tory chancellor George Osborne.

Interviewed today on ITV Border, Ms Regan rejected the idea of a similar currency union and said a new Scottish currency was essential to avoid being “at the mercy” of the UK.

She said: “I think Scotland cannot be credible independently if we are at the mercy of another country’s currency and we’re not able to control that.

“So I think we need to be moving to our own currency as soon as it’s practical.”

Asked by host Peter MacMahon if an independent Scotland would initially need to rely on sterling before making a switch, she said: “Well we would, but only for a couple of months.”

Mr MacMahon, his jaw visibly dropping, replied: “A couple of months? How do you do that?”

Ms Regan said: “In conversation with Tim Rideout, that’s what he set out to me. 

“What we would do, if I become the leader, I am going to start working on what steps we can take now while we are not independent in order to build the infrastructure which would let us move to a Scottish currency within months of becoming independent.”

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Asked if she would set up a central bank before Scotland became independent, she replied: “Yes.”

However, asked if the Scottish Parliament had powers to do that, she was unsure.

She said: “Well, that’s what I’m saying. I’m going to look to see what steps we can take under the devolution settlement. 

“But I am very clear we would need to get that infrastructure in as soon as possible.”

Mr Yousaf was dismissive of her plan.

“We’ve got to make sure that we are absolutely credible when we speak to the people of Scotland," the health secretary told ITV Border.

“They will not trust us if we come up with schemes that I think lack credibility.”

Tory constitution spokesman Donald Cameron said: “Ash Regan is living in a fantasy world with this absurd claim.

“The idea that an SNP Government which is six years late delivering two ferries could set up a Scottish currency within a couple of months is for the birds.

“Years after the SNP were handed control over social security payments, at their own request, many of these benefits are still being administered by the UK Government.

"Yet we’re supposed to believe they could get a new currency up and running in a few weeks.

“By making such an outlandish claim, Ash Regan merely undermines her own credibility as a would-be First Minister.”

Pamela Nash, chief executive of Scotland in Union, added:
“Policy ideas like this will set alarm bells ringing in the ears of people and businesses right across the country.

“Never mind a fag packet, this policy would leave space to spare on a postage stamp.

“The SNP’s vagueness and deception on the currency questions was one of the principle reasons Scotland rejected separation in 2014, but these proposals are even more incredible.

“None of this stands up to even the slightest scrutiny.

“This kind of messaging may play well among some parts of the SNP membership, but all of these candidates should remember they are competing to be the First Minister for all of Scotland.”