Alex Salmond: Scottish independence will unlock 'extraordinary economic potential'


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Voting for independence from the UK would give Scotland the chance to unlock its “extraordinary potential” economically and would lead to “sustainable prosperity” across the country, Alex Salmond has claimed.

In an address to a public meeting of the Scottish cabinet in Rutherglen, South Lanarkshire today, The First Minister said the country would become independent “in more promising circumstances than virtually any nation in history” in the event of a Yes vote on 18 September.

His speech was designed as a pre-emptive strike ahead of tomorrow’s publication of a new analysis paper from the UK Treasury which is expected to claim that everyone in Scotland will be economically better off if the union stays intact. The research is being billed as the most comprehensive piece of work to date examining the impact of independence on Scotland’s finances.

“I am going to argue that we need the powers of independence to create sustainable prosperity across the whole of Scotland and to ensure that everyone feels the benefits of that prosperity,” Mr Salmond told the meeting. “If we vote Yes in September then Scotland will become independent in more promising circumstances than virtually any nation in history.”

He added that Scotland had contributed more in taxes to Britain’s coffers per head of the population that the rest of the UK for more than 30 years and that its public finances had been healthier for the last five.

The First Minister also claimed that an independent Scotland would be “among the wealthiest nations” in the OECD economic zone, coming 14th on the list of 34 countries, ahead of the UK at 18th.

However, a Treasury source told i that Mr Salmond was “talking about the past, not the future” and that the paper would be “forward looking rather than backward looking”. They added that Scotland’s prosperity stemmed from the fact that it was a part of the UK but that declining oil revenues and an ageing population could threaten this in the future.

Danny Alexander, the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, said: “Yet again the Scottish government is answering the wrong question.

“Our analysis is forward-looking. It is the most comprehensive analysis of the fiscal position of Scotland yet produced and will set out the scale of the current and future UK dividend for Scotland.”

Scottish Labour MSP Jackie Baillie added: “This is yet more of the same divisive and negative politics from Alex Salmond. He should spend less time telling us why he hates the UK and more time being honest about the consequences of separation.

“As part of the UK we can have the best of both worlds – a strong Scottish Parliament, with the guarantee of more powers, backed up by the strength, security and stability of being part of the larger UK.”