Nationalists claimed Scotland “has the economic potential to be an independent country” yesterday, as figures showed it reclaiming its pre-recession peak ahead of the rest of the UK. The figures – coming two months before the referendum on independence – showed the nation’s economy expanded by 1 per cent in the first quarter of 2014, exceeding its 2008 high.
The wider UK, whose economy advanced at 0.8 per cent in the same quarter, is not expected to surpass its 2008 peaks until second-quarter estimates are published by the Office for National Statistics next week.
The Scottish National Party’s Finance Secretary, John Swinney, said: “These figures … point to the recovery in Scotland continuing to gather momentum. There can be no doubt that Scotland has the economic potential to be an independent country.”
But a more detailed look at the figures showed Scotland’s growth over the year to the first quarter is less impressive than the wider UK, expanding at a rate of 2.6 per cent compared to 3 per cent for the country overall. Last week the Office for Budget Responsibility cut forecasts for North Sea oil revenues, dealing a blow to nationalists.