United Kingdom

Alex Salmond says independent Scotland should ditch the Pound

Alex Salmond has told his Alba Party that an independent Scotland should ditch the pound and have its own currency, it was claimed today. 

The former first minister is said to have told supporters that Scotland 'must have its own currency' so it is able to cope with a post-coronavirus world. 

It represents a significant shift for Mr Salmond who argued in favour of a currency union between Scotland and the rest of the UK ahead of the 2014 referendum.   

It came as Scottish Tories blasted the Alba Party's and the SNP's push for independence as they said the focus should be on improving public services like the NHS. 

Alex Salmond has told his Alba Party that an independent Scotland should ditch the pound and have its own currency, it was claimed today

Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross has criticised the Alba Party and the SNP for their focus on securing a second independence referendum

The currency issue was crucial during the 2014 vote with the SNP arguing at the time that an independent Scotland could continue to use the pound. 

But then-chancellor George Osborne rejected the proposal for a currency union arguing that the arrangement 'wouldn't work' and it would lead to economic instability. 

'If Scotland walks away from the UK, it walks away from the UK pound,' Mr Osborne said before the vote.

Uncertainty over the currency issue was viewed as one of the deciding factors in the final result in 2014 as Scotland rejected independence. 

Mr Salmond, who led the defeated Yes campaign seven years ago, has insisted his approach back then on the pound was the right one but that times have now changed.   

According to The Times, he said: 'I led us into a referendum whereby it was the correct position to look at a sterling arrangement with the UK.

'That is no longer the world we are in. We are in a world with very low interest rates, where borrowing costs are at a historic low and where there is a great urgency in establishing your own currency at as quickly a rate as possible.' 

The SNP has also changed its stance on the issue. Nicola Sturgeon's party voted in 2019 to say that an independent Scotland should establish its own currency as 'soon as practicable'. 

It came as the Scottish Tories prepare to launch their Holyrood manifesto later today ahead of elections in May. 

Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross will claim holding another referendum would be the 'height of recklessness'. 

'It would derail Scotland’s recovery and send our economy spiralling into chaos, just when we need stability most,' he is expected to say.

He will pledge a £600million fund to help clear the NHS treatment backlog, with the money due to be overseen by an independent task force rather than government. 

The Tories say this is on top of the extra £2billion they have already pledged for the NHS over the course of the next parliament. 

Speaking ahead of the manifesto launch, he blasted the SNP's focus on independence and attacked the party's spending pledges. 

He said: 'Unlike the SNP, we are not setting out a fantasy wish list. Their manifesto could easily cost in excess of £100 billion in a single year. 

'The Scottish Conservatives fully-costed manifesto will focus on what matters most – rebuilding our economy and our NHS after the Covid pandemic.'

He added: 'While the SNP spend the next 12 months focussing on how to get another independence referendum, the Scottish Conservatives would fixate on substantially reducing treatment wait times by the end of next year.'

SNP depute leader Keith Brown hit back and said: 'The Tory strategy for trying to block a referendum on independence is utterly undemocratic.' 

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