Nicola Sturgeon on Scottish Independence in 2015
Former Brexit Party MEP Brian Monteith has claimed independence would result in tens of thousands of people losing their jobs, piling pressure on the welfare system of a country with no obvious way of paying its bill. Mr Monteith, who served in the European Parliament alongside leader Nigel Farage in 2019, was speaking at the end of a month in which First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has claimed time is “on my side” in her quest for a second referendum on the subject of independence.
Mr Monteith said: “The SNP has no fiscal, currency or trade policies for a lonely Scotland to make ends meet and last week’s trade figures pointed to scenes scarier than any Halloween movie.”
Writing in the Scotsman, he added: ”It cannot be said often enough that no central economic case for a Scotland divorced from the country we have built over 300 years of political union currently exists, not in terms of financing the massive fiscal deficit nor the challenge of finding a currency that does not cause wholesale pain, if not ruin, to many Scottish families.
“Those are, however, only two of the insurmountable obstacles all but a few nationalists would rather not talk about – the other is how Scotland would earn a living to pay off the huge annual deficits and debt we have persistently voted for, and ensure whatever currency was used would not be absolutely worthless.”
Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Scotland’s First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon
Brian Monteith, the former Brexit Party MEP
Given Scotland’s close links with the British economy, it was unclear what would happen to trade with the rest of the UK, nor how a likely shortfall would be made up by trade with other countries.
In 2019 Scottish “exports” increased by £3.6billion (4.3 percent) to £87.1billion, of which goods and services valued at £52billion went to England, Wales and Northern Ireland – up £2.5billion – making up 60 percent of the overall total.
Mr Monteith wrote: “The fact is if Scotland were to put any friction between the exports of Scottish businesses to the remaining UK, then we could expect that trade to diminish. No answer has been given as to how this can be overcome.
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Nicola Sturgeon at Holyrood earlier this month
“Given the domination of our trade by sales to the UK (mainly England), then even a drop of a few percentage points would see tens of thousands of people consigned to unemployment, becoming an additional burden on the benefit system of a Scotland already unable to say how it would pay its pensions or social benefits.”
As a result, “something would have to give” in terms of Scotland’s ability to pay benefits, with the result that the poorest would suffer, Mr Monteith pointed out.
He explained: “A Pavlovian response that we could replace any lost trade with Britain with new trade elsewhere is hard to make sense of for it is predicated on Scotland gaining access to the EU single market that, being seven times larger than our British market, could take up the slack.
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Nigel Farage, speaking when Brexit Party leader
Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Union
“Unfortunately this approach it is not justified by the facts at our disposal nor does it take account of the many significant obstacles a lonely Scotland would face, not least meeting the Copenhagen criteria for EU membership.
“But that aside the economics does not make sense.”
Mr Monteith added: “In the last year or so, some nationalists have actually taken this problem of preventing a collapse in Scottish-British trade from new frictions head-on by arguing a physical border between Berwick and Carlisle would be a good thing, suggesting the employment of border guards and custom officials at public expense would make up for the lost income of people making things and paying taxes from their profits. Seriously?”
The potential financial impact of independence
By imposing significant tariffs on goods which are currently tariff-free, the bureaucracy could in theory by paid for, but as they were introduced and increased to make up for the lost business they created, more would be lost in the process, with Scotland ending up “in an economic spiral taking us to the bottom of the Mariana Trench”, Mr Monteith suggested.
Unlike Boris Johnson’s UK, an independent Scotland would not have the option of boosting sales by removing tariffs from economic trade to the EU, Mr Monteith pointed out, a move which has made Britain an attractive market to trade with.
He said: “The SNP’s Scotland would be hence struggling to be as attractive, for the SNP is hardly an advocate of free trade.
The 2014 referendum result by region
“Its politicians are protectionists wishing to erect barriers, not dismantle them.
“For example, 19 percent of palm oil production globally is certified sustainable and 86 percent of that goes to Europe, predominantly used in biofuels, yet the EU is looking to phase out the use of palm oil in biofuel.”
In doing so, the bloc had removed all incentives for sustainable production, with countries like China likely to be the chief beneficiaries – and the environment the loser.
Express.co.uk has contacted the SNP for comment.