SNP economic adviser denies saying it could take 10 years for Scotland’s economy to recover after independence

Kezia Dugdale, the Scottish Labour leader, said the comments were a 'bombshell revelation that express the devastating economic reality of independence'

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An SNP economic adviser has denied reports that emerged of him claiming it could take up to ten years for Scotland’s economy to recover after independence.

Andrew Wilson, who heads up the Growth Commission set up by the Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, denied the claim, which was carried in an interview with Nicola Sturgeon in Holyrood magazine and reported by other outlets.

Mr Wilson reportedly made the comments during a private meeting of SNP insiders at the Craigellachie hotel in Moray. During the meeting – attended by Ms Sturgeon and the party’s leader in Westminster Angus Robertson – he said an independent Scotland “could see a recovery of the position it now finds itself in over a five to 10-year period” according to Holyrood magazine.

They emerged just days after the Scottish First Minister announced that a second independence referendum was on the agenda and the SNP would request a Section 30 order.  Last night a poll by YouGov for The Times found that 57 per cent of Scottish voters would reject independence if it were put on the ballot paper again.

An SNP spokesperson added that the report on the Growth Commission's work “is categorically untrue”. They added: “The biggest threat to Scotland’s jobs and economic growth is the Tory hard Brexit that we face if we remain part of the UK.”

But Kezia Dugdale, the Scottish Labour leader, said the comments were a “bombshell revelation that express the devastating economic reality of independence”.

She continued: “The fact that even the man responsible for rebuilding the SNP’s discredited economic case for separation has reportedly admitted that it would take a decade for Scotland to recover says it all.

“The Nationalists’ case for breaking up the UK is even weaker now than it was back in 2014. The reality is that leaving the UK would mean turbo-charged austerity, which would devastate our valued public services like schools and hospitals.

“In 2014, the Nationalists repeatedly marched into the poorest communities in Scotland and gave the false hope that everything would be better with independence. But even Andrew Wilson now admits that cutting £15bn from schools and hospitals will make it harder to help the poorest and most vulnerable in Scotland because of the devastating impact independence would have on our economy.

The Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson added that the First Minister “had been caught out trying to hide the cost of independence”.

She added: “Her own finance guru is telling Nicola Sturgeon that her plans would inflict 10 years of pain and cuts on Scotland just to get us back to the point where we are now, as part of the UK.”