Nicola Sturgeon has defended plans for an independent Scotland to have its own currency despite claims it could put 45,000 households into negative equity.
The First Minister said she looked forward to Scotland leaving the UK “very soon” and when that happened decisions would be taken in the “interests of businesses and individuals the length and breadth of our country”.
She had been challenged by the Tories to name a single business group or trade union that had come out in favour of the SNP’s new policy on currency.
Isn’t it just a simple fact that the best way to keep Scotland successful, to protect our pensions, to boost jobs – is for Scotland to have nothing to do with Nicola Sturgeon’s plans for a breakaway currency, keep our UK pound and keep Scotland in the UK? #FMQs
— ScotConservatives (@ScotTories) May 2, 2019
With one opinion poll at the weekend putting support for independence on 49%, she said: “People in Scotland know the time is coming when we need to get rid of Tory governments once and for all and take control of our own future into our own hands.”
At the SNP spring conference in Edinburgh on Saturday, activists endorsed plans for an independent Scotland to have an alternative to the pound “as soon as practicable”.
Richard Marsh, who worked on the SNP’s Sustainable Growth Commission when it considered the economic case for leaving the UK, was reported to have said setting up a new currency could push 45,000 homes into negative equity – similar to what happened in the financial crash of 2008.
Jackson Carlaw, filling in for Ruth Davidson at First Minister’s Questions for the last time before the Scottish Tory leader returns from maternity leave, challenged the First Minister, demanding: “How on earth is dumping the pound in the best interests of Scotland?”
He added: “We’ve got a plan by the First Minister to ditch he pound and create a new Scottish currency.
“Yesterday she couldn’t remember the six tests she herself has set for it.
“It is not supported by any impartial business groups or trade unions, her own party’s Growth Commission adviser thinks it’s a turkey.”
Ms Sturgeon insisted “business and trade unions across the country will want to see a Scottish Parliament with the ability to do what is right for Scotland”, as she warned of the financial impact of leaving the European Union”.
FM: "The essence of independence is that we take the decisions in this parliament that are right for Scotland. The real threat to Scotland right now is that damage to our economy coming from Brexit." #FMQs
— The SNP (@theSNP) May 2, 2019
The First Minister said: “It is because of that disaster being imposed on Scotland that Scotland needs the power to take our own decisions.
“An independent Scotland, which I look forward to happening very soon, would use the pound while that was in our interests until such times as the conditions were right to move to a different arrangement.
“That is the benefit of independence, we take decisions that are right for our interest here in Scotland, rather than having decisions that are against our interests imposed on us by Westminster.”
The SNP leader added: “The essence of independence is that we take the decisions in this Parliament that are right for Scotland so we don’t have to have imposed upon us by Westminster decisions that are damaging to our interests.
“The real threat to Scotland right now is that damage to our economy coming from Brexit, described as a disaster by so many businesses, individuals and academics the length and breadth of the country.
“That’s why we see support for independence increasing, it is why we see support for this government increasing and it is why we see support for the Scottish Conservatives starting to go through the floor.”