'Walking out of the UK means walking out of the UK pound': Downing Street rejects claim by unnamed minister of currency union for independent Scotland

'You simply cannot imagine Westminster abandoning the people of Scotland,' minister said

The UK Government has moved to distance itself from claims made by an anonymous minister that there would be a currency union between an independent Scotland and the rest of the UK.

Downing Street insisted that independence means "walking out of the UK pound" but Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said the minister's comments had deprived the No campaign of its "trump card".

The unnamed minister told The Guardian that "of course" there would be a decision to share the pound, indicating that a deal could be done with Scotland in exchange for the UK's nuclear submarine fleet remaining at Faslane.

All three main parties at Westminster have officially ruled out sharing sterling with an independent Scotland, but the minister told newspaper: "Of course there would be a currency union."

The minister added: "There would be a highly complex set of negotiations after a yes vote with many moving pieces. The UK wants to keep Trident nuclear weapons at Faslane and the Scottish government wants a currency union - you can see the outlines of a deal."

The newspaper reported that the minister is at the heart of the pro-union campaign and had acknowledged that opposition to sharing the pound was a vital part of the strategy.

The minister said: "You simply cannot imagine Westminster abandoning the people of Scotland. Saying no to a currency union is obviously a vital part of the no campaign. But everything would change in the negotiations if there were a yes vote."

But a No 10 spokesman insisted: "There will not be a currency union in the event of independence. The only way to keep the UK pound is to stay in the UK. Walking out of the UK means walking out of the UK pound.

"A currency union will not work because it would not be in Scotland's interests and would not be in the UK's interests.

"Scotland would have no control over mortgage rates, and would be binding its hands on tax and funding for vital public services.

"The Scottish Government are proposing to divorce the rest of the UK but want to keep the joint bank account and credit card.

"The UK would not put its taxpayers at risk of bailing out a foreign country and its banks. Parliament wouldn't pass it, and the people wouldn't accept it.

"Any suggestion to the contrary is wrong."

Scottish Secretary Alistair Carmichael said: "An anonymous, off the record quote does not change the stark reality on the currency.

"The UK Government has listened to the views of the Governor of the Bank of England and the independent advice of the Permanent Secretary to the Treasury that a currency would be damaging for all the United Kingdom.

"That's why a currency union simply will not happen.

"The Scottish Government should remove the uncertainty on the currency by coming forward with a plan B."

The minister's comments were seized on by Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, who said they gave a big boost to the Yes campaign.

She said: "This was supposed to be the No campaign's trump card, but as the polls show it has backfired badly - the gap between Yes and No has halved since November, and most Scots simply do not believe the bluff and bluster we had from George Osborne, Ed Balls and Danny Alexander.

"Now that the card has been withdrawn, it gives an even bigger boost to the Yes campaign. And it can only add to the sense of crisis which is engulfing the No campaign.

"The reality is that a currency union is every bit as much in the interests of the rest of the UK as an independent Scotland, and that is why Westminster will agree to one. Scotland is the rest of the UK's second biggest trading partner, and not sharing sterling would cost businesses south of the border an extra £500 million in transaction costs."

She added: "The leader of the No campaign, Alistair Darling, said that a shared sterling area between an independent Scotland and the rest of the UK is 'desirable' and 'logical' - and now the UK Government appears to have U-turned and actually agrees with that sensible position."

The Scottish Government's White Paper on independence, published last November, says a shared currency is in the "economic interests" of Scotland and the rest of the UK.

Almost half of voters north of the border think that Mr Osborne's pledge to rule out a formal currency union with an independent Scotland is a bluff, according to a poll published this week.

A YouGov poll for The Times newspaper suggests 45 per cent of Scots do not believe the Chancellor's threat is real, compared with 40 per cent who think he means what he says.

PA

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
2015 General Election
May2015

Poll of Polls

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Bookkeeper / Office Co-ordinator

£9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This role is based within a small family run ...

Recruitment Genius: Designer - Print & Digital

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Design and marketing agenc...

Recruitment Genius: Quantity Surveyor

£46000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This property investment firm are lookin...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales / Telemarketing Executive - OTE £30k / £35k plus

£18000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company specialises provid...

Day In a Page

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003