Pages tagged with "Exports"

Ten ways the UK Government is undermining Scotland’s devolution

Since the Brexit vote, Westminster has been determined to take back control - of Scotland. It wants to go back to an old version of the power relationship that predates the era of both countries joining the EU. It is tearing up the agreed legal framework that was established on the basis of the 1997 referendum where devolution was supported by 75% of voters

Without consultation or consent, the UK Government is making highly political and ideological changes. Instead of standing by the convention that it should not interfere in devolved areas, the Westminster government sees itself as the owner of Scotland’s sovereignty - and it regards the Scottish Parliament as having none. Therefore it can do whatever it pleases to Scotland.

Ten ways the UK Government is undermining devolution

#1 A hard Brexit was forced on Scotland without consent

The referendum on EU membership delivered an incredibly strong Remain result (62%) in Scotland. The four governments in the UK initially agreed a process that committed them to working together in EU negotiations. This could have provided an opportunity for the views of the Scottish electorate to be taken into account and for consideration of a compromise proposal, something like the Northern Ireland protocol.  In practice, however, the form of Brexit – with the UK leaving the European Single Market and Customs Union as well as the European Union – reflected solely the views of a hardline group of English MPs, the ERG who lead the UK Government. 

#2 The UK Government’s “Brexit Freedoms Bill” - means the freedom of Westminster to do whatever it wants to Scotland

Many of the laws we take for granted, from workers' rights to consumer protection are written into UK law as part of EU laws. The Brexit Freedoms Bill will tear those up - it will effectively give the UK Government so-called Henry the Eighth powers to amend these at will without the usual Parliamentary process for making new laws. It means there could be a race to the bottom with a bonfire, not of red tape, but of citizens’ rights. 

#3 The Internal Markets Act was forced on Scotland

The United Kingdom Internal Market Act 2020 made it illegal for any divergence between the different nations of the UK when it comes to trade. That means that even a small change by the Scottish Government - like putting a 10p deposit on glass bottles is automatically deemed illegal. It would require a specific exemption in the UK act for Holyrood to do that. The Act had to be amended last month to allow Scotland to ban cotton buds, which can end up in the ocean. That is a big change from the previous devolution settlement. Holyrood did not consent to this Act but it was pushed through anyway. 

#4 The UK’s increasingly-lax environmental standards and rights will be forced on Scotland

One example is the UK government is already planning to water down the regulatory requirements on key chemicals, and experts say the UK’s rules are now trailing the EU. One example is glyphosate - Roundup - which research suggests disrupts the immune systems of honeybees making them more vulnerable to colony collapse. It is likely to be banned in the EU but remain legal in the UK. Because of the Internal Markets Act, it would require a specific legal exemption by Westminster for Scotland to effectively ban toxic chemicals from being sold north of the border. 

#5 The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child was partly struck down

Another example is the incorporation of the UN Rights of the Child into Scottish law. This was passed unanimously by Holyrood. England doesn’t recognise these rights - in part because they would apply to child refugees. As a result, it took the Scottish Government to court and struck out several provisions of this internationally agreed convention. In the course of this case, the UK Supreme Court ruled that all of the sovereignty of UK democracy rests with Westminster - the Scottish Parliament has effectively no protection in the courts - despite the massive majority of Scottish people who voted ‘Yes’ to devolution. 

#6 “Leveling up” means avoiding the scrutiny of Scotland’s elected representatives

The UK Government has defined a series of “leveling up missions” covering devolved matters – such as education, health and justice -  without the agreement of the devolved governments and has indicated it does not intend to seek consent, or even consult them over its plans.  

The UK Government also took on new powers to spend money in devolved areas that had been removed from them in 1999. Scotland has received just 3.5% of all Leveling Up funding, despite having 8.2% of the population”. The leveling up funding being distributed by the UK Government fall far short of the funding streams Scotland received from the EU, for infrastructure, remote area support,  investment in science research and more. 

This is underlined by a “UK Infrastructure Bank”, being set up to bypass the devolution settlement

The UK Government’s legislative programme announced in May 2022 includes Bills for a UK Infrastructure Bank with powers to spend directly in devolved areas, without even checking  these decisions respect the priorities of the Scottish Parliament in areas for which it is responsible.   

#7 If the UK Government secures a trade deal with the US that may impact the NHS in Scotland

Ongoing trade talks between the UK and the US include access to health data. There have also been fears that US pharmaceutical companies are seeking access to the NHS in any deal. That could impact prices for new and old drugs. Holyrood would not have the power to say no to such deals and the gradual privatisation of the NHS will impact negatively on Scotland's health budget.

The UK Government has made it clear it will not hesitate to override devolution within the context of international trade deals. A clause protecting the NHS from being on the table in trade negotiations was removed from the Trade Act.

#8 Lack of protection for Scotland’s iconic food and drink brands in the UK government’s negotiated trade deals. 

The UK Government does not consult Scotland over the impact of trade deals on Scotland, even though Scotland is responsible for a third of the UK’s food and drink exports.  The EU recognises 15 protected geographic indicators for food and drink from Scotland - they are special food categories that belong to all the producers in a specific area - like “Shetland lamb” or “Scottish salmon”. Australia does not have these for food, though it has some for wine. Other legal ways to protect iconic brands, like Scotch whisky are expensive and complicated. The document produced by the UK Government on the Australia deal makes clear there is no current protection for Scotland’s food PGIs. This template will be rolled over to other countries such as the USA and represents a problem for Scotland’s high-quality food producers, who could be undercut by people piggybacking on the brand and any promotion. 

#9 The Elections Act 2022 demanding photo id to vote is being forced on Scotland 

The Scottish Parliament refused to consent to the Elections Act but nevertheless, it will cover the general election rules. The UK government's own research suggests that 9% of voters do not have eligible identification. It disproportionately affects those on low incomes. A report said the Act risks damaging trust in the UK’s electoral system, instead of protecting it. Legislation to create free voter id cards has been delayed.

The Wikipedia entry on the Act reads:

"The act was criticised for permitting as acceptable voter identification "an Older Person’s Bus Pass, an Oyster 60+ Card, a Freedom Pass", while not allowing 18+ student Oyster cards, national railcards, or student ID cards. An amendment in the House of Lords to list these as accepted forms of voter identification was rejected by the Conservative government.”

 

#10 The Vow to maintain the Barnett Formula is being broken

In 2014, the “Vow” that contributed to winning the referendum for the Union included an express commitment to maintaining the Barnett formula. Over time, Barnett gradually reduces Scotland’s budget share anyway. It is based on a per head population count and does not recognise the huge assets Scotland shares with the UK in terms of food and energy production, or the different costs of a more dispersed population in a large area, or the issue of peripherality for the Highlands and Islands, as the EU does.  But even that promise is being broken - the Scottish Parliament’s budget is being cut. Money such as the Leveling Up money is being unfairly distributed - Scotland’s share of that should be handed over to Holyrood. The Scottish Fiscal Commission confirmed in December that: “Overall the Scottish Budget in 2022-23 is 2.6 percent lower than in 2021-22. After accounting for inflation the reduction is 5.2 percent.”  That number will be significantly higher now. 

Conclusion

Far from the promises of the 2014 referendum campaign of ‘lead us don’t leave us’, the UK Government has embarked on a a very different course. Rather than consulting with Scotland’s elected representatives - be they in Westminster or Holyrood, the UK Government treats them with growing contempt. It does not recognise any sovereignty of the Scottish Parliament. Despite the fact it has a handful of MPs and relies on proportional representation to get less than a quarter of the seats at Holyrood, the UK Government intends to bend Scotland to its will. 

Why doesn’t BBC Scotland tell the truth about Brexit?

As evidence mounts that Brexit is playing a major part in the UK’s cost of living crisis, the national broadcaster appears to be avoiding reporting honestly on the subject. Why is this? One reason is that as Scotland moves towards an independence referendum, the issue of Brexit is particularly sensitive.

Scotland voted against Brexit - it was foisted upon us.  An independent Scotland would be able to rejoin the EU as an associate member immediately, and if the referendum is held in 2023, it could reasonably expect to be a full member by January 1, 2025. 

Every mention of Brexit damage is a boost for the Yes campaign - and presumably, this is one reason why the Unionist British Broadcasting Corporation goes to Orwellian lengths to avoid telling the truth about its contribution to UK inflation - in April they edited out the word “Brexit” in the middle of an interview with Scotland’s National Farming Union President Martin Kennedy. They then blamed tailbacks at Dover on holidaymakers not extra Brexit checks, and now inflation is being blamed on the Ukraine war not the post-Brexit slump in the British pound.

Bloomberg, the Financial Times and other international outlets report the Brexit effect

High-quality, independent news media outlets like Bloomberg and the FT report the UK has worse inflation than similar G7 countries. Since the Brexit vote the pound has slid against the dollar and that is leading to extra steep inflation. It is also weakening against the Euro and Bloomberg predicts a Euro will be worth 90p by the autumn. 

“Citigroup Inc, Bank of America Corp and Standard Bank all see the UK as an outlier in the developed world because of the economic damage wrought by the decision to cut ties with the European Union. Even as price pressures start to fade elsewhere, they say UK inflation will be higher-than-normal because of immigration controls and supply chain disruption.”

Bloomberg, June 22.

The Financial Times BIg Read a day earlier explored the negative consequences of leaving the EU on the shrinking economy, the falling pound and the flatlining investment curve.  It was headlined  "

The BBC appears unwilling to acknowledge what international outlets do

But the BBC seems unwilling to report this in the same way as these respected international sources. In a long item on BBC Scotland’s flagship “Good Morning Scotland” on June 22, for example, reporters discussed the effect of higher prices on Scots. That pattern was repeated in a report by the BBC’s economics editor Faisal Islam on the BBC News at Ten on June 20. Neither show reported the Brexit effect on inflation. 

Good Morning Scotland and other news shows such as “the Bottom Line” discuss the impact of higher costs on agriculture and food prices. They do not explain to viewers why items like oil, gas, diesel, fertiliser cost more for UK buyers.  Lower trust in sterling, lower trust in the UK's direction of travel means a pound buys less on the international markets. 

Food imported from Europe costs more

Imported food - fresh fruit, salad, pork, tomatoes, jam etc - which predominantly came from the EU, have experienced a substantial Brexit effect. Brexit increased average food prices by about 6 percent last year - and that is likely to increase.

The UK has the lowest growth in the G20  bar Russia - OECD

The UK’s inflation rate hit another 40-year high in May, reaching 9.1 percent, its highest level since 1982. The Bank of England expects the inflation rate to exceed 11 percent in October.

The UK is lagging behind the rest of the G7 in terms of trade recovery - business investment, trails other industrialised countries, in spite of Treasury tax breaks to try to drive it up. Next year, according to the OECD think-tank, the UK will have the lowest growth in the G20, apart from sanctioned Russia. 

Brexit has shrunk the UK economy by £100bn a year

The Office for Budget Responsibility first predicted in March 2020, that Brexit would reduce productivity and UK gross domestic product by 4 percent compared with a world where the country remained inside the EU. It says that a little over half of that damage has yet to occur. 

That level of decline, worth about £100bn a year in lost output, means lost revenues for the Treasury of roughly £40bn a year. That money might have enabled them to inflation-proof the Scottish budget - the money “gifted” to Holyrood by Westminster which is being slashed in real terms by inflation, despite the Treasury pulling in extra billions through a windfall tax on Scotland's assets.

Sterling fell 10 percent after the Brexit referendum

Sterling fell almost 10 percent after the Brexit referendum in June 2016, against currencies that match the UK’s pattern of imports. It did not recover. This sharp depreciation was not followed by a boom in exports as UK goods and services became cheaper on global markets, but it did raise the price of imports and pushed up inflation. 

While the UK was still in the EU and during the Brexit “transition phase”, there were no significant effects on trade flows. But this has changed since stricter border controls were introduced at the start of 2021, imposing no tariffs, but significant checks and controls at the formerly frictionless border. 

Scotland makes a third of the UK”s food and drink exports so it takes the hardest hit

Scotland accounts for a third of the UK”s food and drink exports and many smaller Scottish businesses are struggling to absorb the extra costs of the non-tariff barriers. Many have stopped exporting to the EU completely. The Scottish economy is now trailing behind Northern Ireland which benefits from the protocol, which keeps a door open to the EU single market.

But BBC Scotland is failing to report the effect of Brexit on Scotland’s economy, which is worsening over time.  

The UK’s threat to rip up the Northern Ireland protocol means Scotland's universities have now been excluded from the world’s biggest science funding stream, Horizon, losing one billion Euros and the international prestige that would have brought. BBC Scotland has failed to cover this issue. 

The Scottish Highlands and Islands were particularly dependent on summer workers from EU countries. Summer visitors will notice the lack of facilities due to shortage of seasonal workers. That means those businesses will pay less in taxes. Farmers chose to plant less this year and that will lead to higher prices for food. But BBC Scotland has largely ignored the Brexit effect on agriculture. 

Is the BBC taking an anti-independence stance?

The BBC is a UK institution, at its core the BBC doesn't want change. It has now institutionally accepted Brexit and therefore despite Brexit being the foundation for mass inflation, disruption at ports and airports and loss of economic growth the BBC ignores it as "not news". The BBC is a very top-down organisation run from London - journalists who try to discuss the Brexit effect will soon be sidelined. People who want to get promoted try to please the bosses - and that means not using the B word. 

The issue is particularly sensitive in a Scottish context. Brexit was forced on Scotland without consent or even consultation. BBC Scotland now seems desperate to avoid acknowledging what international publications like Bloomberg and the Financial Times regularly admit - that Brexit is playing a major role in driving inflation. Is the BBC’s reluctance to report the truth about Brexit also motivated by concerns it will feed into support for independence?

Conservative northern branch, Zero to offer Scotland

Murdo Fraser accuses the Scottish Government of being a Potemkin Government but the increasingly Scotiaphobic Tory northern branch has nothing to offer Scotland. Scottish voters know it and Murdo knows it, which is why he was silent about his own party’s record in government. 

Just three months ago the Conservative northern branch leader Douglas Ross won some plaudits calling for Johnson’s resignation for attending boozy parties while the rest of the country was in lockdown and in February Tory MSP Russell Findlay was too busy painting his bathroom to meet the PM on his furtive foray into Fife. A recent poll shows that even Labour’s moribound northern branch has overtaken the Tories.

Now with the war in Ukraine muting rebelliousness in northern branch ranks, Murdo is hanging his party's meagre hopes on a depressed local election turnout in May, which underscores its vacuousness.

After 12 years of a UK Conservative government, the wreckage is pervasive. Public services have been starved of funding, poverty and inequality have risen, and the English NHS is being privatised by stealth, with Scotland’s next in line. The UK’s Covid death rate is among the highest in Europe, government corruption is rife and ministers routinely flout the law.

Then there’s Brexit, a disastrous own goal that will depress GDP by 4%, inflicting twice the damage done by Covid. UK economic growth lags behind Germany, France, Spain and Italy. Between 2019 and 2022, trade with Germany crashed 18%, and Germany’s exports to the UK are down nearly a quarter. The UK’s investment attractiveness took a 17% hit in 2020/21. Foreign investment in strategic growth sectors like software fell by a third while advanced engineering, the environment, infrastructure and transport plunged 25%.

Scotland’s export driven economy has lost billions. The Australia and New Zealand trade deals negotiated by the UK Government give beef and lamb exporters with lower costs and animal welfare standards unfettered access to the UK market, undercutting Scottish farmers, crofters and food producers. Exports of Scottish whisky and salmon are significantly down since 2019. For the first time since 1997, the UK now spends more on importing goods from the rest of the world than it does from the EU.

Inflation is at a 30-year high, interest rates and regressive taxes are up, National Insurance rates have risen punishing the working and not the wealthy and Sunak’s spring statement did nothing to alleviate the suffering of millions. Safe from a windfall tax, private energy companies profiteer while Scottish renewables producers’ pay ten times in grid connection charges than their southern counterparts and Scottish consumers pay among the highest electricity standing charges in the UK, an absurdity given Scotland’s status as a net energy exporter.

What Murdo Fraser fails to understand is that an independent Scotland won’t be dominated by a single political party, there will even probably be a true Scottish Conservative party to replace the London led unionist tory party and there will be several other parties to better reflect the nation’s political diversity. The difference is they will represent Scotland’s interests, not those of another country but that probably does mean there will be no room for politicians such as Fraser. 

Devo Max won't be on the indyref2 ballot paper - here are five reasons why

Why are we even talking about devo max again? In Scotland today, a vote for Labour is first and foremost a vote against self-determination for the people of Scotland. As the demographic trend towards independence continues, the Labour Party in Scotland finds itself battling the Conservatives for a dwindling hard Unionist vote, largely in older age groups. They would like to be in a position to challenge the SNP but that looks like a distant prospect. 

Anas Sarwar’s strident Unionism is not polling well - a recent Opinium poll showed Labour’s revival south of the border is not matched in Scotland - they are predicted to get just one seat in a General Election. The May council elections will be another test and the omens are not good for Labour. 

Labour leader Keir Stamer is waiting for, or rather banking on, the result of Gordon Brown’s Commission on the Constitution and says that he does not support the status quo. The Labour Party may then try to break the political deadlock by moving to a more nuanced position - such as that they support another referendum if devo max is on the ballot paper - but it won't be. 

They may see devo max as positioning themselves as being in the political centre. There is evidence that if you offer people three choices - eg “large”, “medium” and “small” drinks, people will choose the middle one regardless of what they would select without that prompt.

If the devo max position had been adopted straight after the 2014 referendum, as promised in the Vow, it might have helped Labour to hang onto more of their support. But now, it seems too little too late. How could Scotland vote No for a second time based on the same promise made in 2014 but never delivered? Here are five major reasons why devo max is not a good option in the Scottish context. 

1 Devo max can’t address the Brexit issue

A lot of people voted No in 2014 largely because they thought that was the best way to preserve Scotland’s EU membership. One of Better Together’s strongest arguments was that a newly independent Scotland might find itself out in the cold for years. 

In the 2016 EU referendum, there was a clear division between Scotland and England. Scotland voted 62% Remain and every council area in Scotland voted to Remain. Only a third of voters and a much smaller percentage of the total electorate than in England voted to leave the EU.

And yet this huge constitutional change was forced upon Scotland without any attempt to respect its democratic will. The Scottish Government’s offers of a compromise - something like the NI protocol were dismissed out of hand.

Brexit is hurting Scotland’s economy. The only part of the UK that exports more than it imports, since Brexit, its export trade has suffered a major hit. Imports are becoming more expensive, pushing up the cost of food and consumer goods. Supply chains have proved most vulnerable at their endpoint - rural areas in the Highlands and Islands which have seen repeated breakdowns in suppl

Scotland’s agriculture, food production, hospitality, and care sectors have been hit by the exodus of EU staff. Not being able to recruit from the pool of EU citizens is pushing many of these industries to breaking point and only by rejoining the EU can Scotland regain the substantial benefits of being part of the largest trading area in the world.

Opportunities for Scots are also much reduced - the ability to live and work freely across Europe has gone. Looking across the water, we can see Ireland’s people embracing everything the EU has to offer; from opening Irish bars in European towns, to encouraging the young to aspire to be the next Ursula von der Leyen  (the Irish Government “A Career for EU” strategy aims to increase the number of Irish people working in EU institutions).  

2 Devo max can’t deal with immigration 

One of the events of last year that will make it into the history books was the Kenmore Street protest when a peaceful crowd surrounded a van that was attempting to deport two people from the area, eventually winning their release.  

The UK Government’s “hostile environment” has little support north of the border. Scotland has an aging population. It needs to attract young and talented people to come here in order to build a strong society.  But the Home Office mandates that asylum seekers and refugees who live in Scotland can’t work - despite evidence that this is the best way for them to integrate and that they often have a great deal to offer their communities. The EU is adopting a much more enlightened policy on this. 

This week, Bloomberg ran a story headed Migrants Are Saving Germany From a U.K.-Style Trucker Shortage reporting that a quarter of German trucks are now driven by migrant workers who also fill a quarter of chef roles. 

Another example - Scottish universities are now much less able to attract EU staff and students and their ability to offer work visas to global international students post study is under Home Office control. 

3 Devo max would not confirm the“Rights of the Child” 

In 2021, the Scottish Parliament ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child into Scots law. This was the culmination of many years of work by children’s rights campaigners. Any attempt to protect children from abuse starts from a position of respecting their human rights as individuals. 

This convention is the most widely recognised in the world. It mandates that children have a right to be consulted over decisions that concern them. They have a right to housing, food and education.

These rights were unanimously accepted by every party in Holyrood. But the UK Government chose to go to court over it. There may be cases, for example, where the UK’s determination to deport children and families could conflict with the Convention. 

In October, the UK Government succeeded in establishing that because the UK Constitution rests on the principle of Westminster’s Parliamentary Sovereignty, Holyrood could not ratify this convention.

4 Devo max can’t get rid of Trident

Devo max would leave defence in the hands of Westminster. They would retain Trident at its base in Scotland. It is unlikely that any area of England would consent to have nuclear submarines based there. With defence being one of the powers that would still be reserved to Westminster not only nuclear weapons policy but the decision to send troops to war would be out of Scotland's hands.

Devo max would indeed leave all of the great offices of state in the hands of the UK Government. Whatever its political colour, Westminster would appoint the Secretaries of State for defence and foreign affairs, it would appoint the UK’s representatives abroad such as ambassadors, consuls, people nominated to international bodies and committees. It would determine the policy choices for the UK at state level, whether that was NATO, the UN or climate change conferences. History suggests that these choices would often be against Scotland’s wishes. 

5 Pensions would still be subject to Westminster cuts 

The UK Government pays the worst state pension in the developed world and has recently broken its manifesto pledge and removed the triple lock protection on state pensions which will see Scottish pensioners lose £520 in 2022, and a cumulative £2,600 over the next five years. In direct comparison, the Scottish independence movement is campaigning for a pension rise in an independent Scotland to £200.00 from the standard basic UK pension of £137.60 a week. 

Conclusion

We have seen over recent years how defenceless Scotland is against a hostile UK Government determined to cut pensions and Scotland budgets in real terms with austerity budgets. Westminster has declined to pass to Holyrood the powers that have come back through Brexit, even the ones that were already supposedly devolved, making its own decisions about Scotland’s spending priorities without consulting Holyrood. 

UK Government in 2014 rejected the opportunity to add Devo Max to the ballot paper - probably because polling shows it would be likely to split the No vote more than Yes. On the eve of that vote, the Gordon Brown made a Vow that devo max would effectively be delivered anyway. It wasn’t. Devo max won't be on the ballot paper in 2023 either and Scotland wont fall for that trick twice.

Five reasons why unionist spin on economic reports about independent Scotland are nonsense

There’s no shortage of think tank reports emanating from south of the Border determined to portray the finances of an independent Scotland in as dismal a light as possible, all the better to convince us that a vote for independence would be economically disastrous.

The latest has just been published by the Institute of Government and, true to form, it has been seized on by union supporters as a harbinger of doom for independence. According to the leader of the Scottish conservatives Douglas Ross the report suggests that ‘plans for another referendum would smash Scotland’s fragile economic recovery into pieces’.

The Tory leader’s comments are another example of the habit he has established during the election campaign of talking complete nonsense. This report does no such thing. Here are five reasons why the IoG report cannot be interpreted as bad news for an independent Scotland.

1: It is based on Scotland’s fiscal position as a member of the UK. The current financial arrangement is determined by Westminster, the distribution of UK resources is decided by Westminster and control of the major economic policies which affect Scotland are the preserve of Westminster. These could and would change in an independent Scotland, as the report itself admits. It states: 'Over time, different policy choices made by an independent Scotland ...  could affect [its] economic growth and so change the fiscal pressures.'

The Scottish government must balance its budget each year. It is expressly forbidden from running a deficit

2: The portrayal of Scotland’s ‘deficit’ is false. The Scottish government must balance its budget each year. It is expressly forbidden from running a deficit. Indeed, as Believe in Scotland and Business for Scotland have consistently argued, Scotland has been subsidising the rest of the UK for decades.

It has been paying interest on UK debt which it is has not incurred and which has been apportioned by Westminster with no reference to where the money borrowed has actually been spent. How much- if any - of the UK’s debt which would be shouldered by an independent Scotland – has still to be agreed.

3: The portrayal of Scotland as a country spending more than it contributes to the UK is false. The report itself says that in 2008/09, the UK government received £10.6bn (in cash terms) in revenues from the North Sea. The vast majority of this (£8.9bn) was estimated to have been generated by oilfields that were apportioned to Scotland by the Scottish Adjacent Waters Boundaries Order 1999. As a result, revenues per person in Scotland exceeded those of any of the other UK nations.

As an independent nation, a Scottish government could also have chosen to smooth out the revenue fluctuations by saving revenues in good years

That has consistently been the case until oil revenues fell more recently, although they have since recovered to generate £1.2bn for the UK government.

The report also admits: ‘As an independent nation, a Scottish government could also have chosen to smooth out the revenue fluctuations by saving revenues in good years and borrowing more in lean years.’

4: The focus on the so-called deficit is in any case misleading. The report states: ’It is not essential for countries to run surpluses every year – or, indeed, at all. The UK government has run a surplus in only 12 of the years since the end of the Second World War. Countries typically grow from year to year and so can afford to borrow some money now since the burden of repaying that debt will be lighter in future when the economy is larger.’

The report also suggests there is a case for the rest of the UK to make payments to an independent Scotland to meet costs which would be classed as above being of benefit to Scotland itself.

And, of course. there is the huge potential for Scotland as a key provider of renewable energy.

5: The calculations on the fiscal position of an independent Scotland takes no account of the effects of the economic policy of a future Scottish government on economic growth. It’s a fairly sure bet that such a government would avoid such catastrophes as Brexit and would agree alternative routes to Covid recovery other than the austerity threatened by the Tory government at Westminster.

Again, the report states: ‘The fiscal arithmetic becomes easier if the economy grows faster – taxes generate more revenue and spending can be squeezed relative to the size of the economy without requiring cash or real terms cuts to spending levels.’