“DISASTROUS” plans for a separate Scottish pound are set to be put forward by Nicola Sturgeon’s expert commission on monetary policy.
The SNP went back to the drawing board last year after party leaders were forced to accept their attempt to retain sterling during the 2014 independence referendum was a failure.
They are now finalising a review of the currency options for an separate Scotland in preparation for another attempt to break away from the rest of the UK.
The work is being led by Professor Andrew Hughes Hallett, a former World Bank and International Monetary Fund consultant, and will be presented to Ms Sturgeon later this year.
Although the expert group is considering all options, including keeping the pound and adopting the euro, a source said the introduction of a new Scottish currency was the most “likely” outcome.
Speaking to a pro-independence newspaper, the insider said: “My reading of the situation is that there will certainly be a change from what the position was last time and I think some form of arrangement where you move reasonably quickly and go to use a Scottish currency is likely and will at the very least be seriously considered.”
But opposition politicians quickly branded the plan a “disaster”.
Scottish Labour’s business manager James Kelly said: “A separate Scottish currency would be disastrous for Scottish jobs and the economy.”Losing the UK pound with independence would mean less money to spend on valued public services, like care of the elderly.
“Nicola Sturgeon should stop playing games with Scotland’s constitution and rule out another referendum altogether. Labour will not support any SNP plan to force another independence referendum on the people of Scotland.”
The expert group is also considering whether the Scottish pound’s value should be pegged to sterling, the euro or allowed to float freely on the world’s markets.
The source added: “The idea is to get way beyond where the debate was before – do we still use the pound or adopt our own currency – and come up with detailed analysis and proposals.
“So not only do we have a strong case for whatever option is put forward but it is backed by the proper infrastructure so the case is entirely secure and that the Scottish Government can put it forward.”
The Scottish Greens have already backed the idea of a separate currency and the National Institute for Economic Research concluded it would be a “prudent option” should Scotland become independent.
However, the SNP would still have to overcome the fact that if an independent Scotland were to join the EU, it would have no choice but to adopt the euro under the Treaty of Maastricht.
Last night, a party spokesman said: “The SNP has established a Growth Commission which, as well as making recommendations for measures to boost Scotland’s economy, will consider the most appropriate monetary policy arrangements to underpin a programme for sustainable growth in an independent Scotland. The work of the Growth Commission is ongoing.”
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