Andrew Marr and Nicola Sturgeon clash on independence
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Mrs Sturgeon, the SNP’s leader, was vigorously challenged on the subject by the BBC’s Andrew Marr yesterday, who asked her: “Has the SNP modelled the impact of independence on peoples’ incomes?” In reply, she admitted: “Not yet. “We will do all of that, as we did in 2014, as we get to an independence referendum. We will do that then.”
You are asking me to put the cart rather before the horse
Pressed as to why, Mrs Sturgeon added: “Because that will take account of all the up-to-date financial and economic information.
“If we had done that, for example, just over a year ago before the Covid pandemic struck then that modelling would be out of date now because the world has been turned upside down.
“You are asking me to put the cart rather before the horse.”
Despite saying the costs would be outlined before an independence vote, the May 6 election is being treated by the SNP as a de facto vote on whether or not a poll should take place, with an outright majority being deemed as a mandate.
Ms Sturgeon also bluntly rejected comparisons with the Leave campaign, which was criticised in the run-up to the 2016 Brexit referendum for not offering a similar analysis of the economic impact to the UK of quitting the EU.
She said: “They were in a negotiation with the EU, in the process of imposing a hard Brexit without having done that.
“I am talking about a referendum in the future where people get a choice and, when we ask them to make that choice, it would be shameful for somebody in my position not to put out that information.
“You are comparing apples and pears, frankly, in terms of the two positions you are putting forward.”
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Meanwhile, writing in The Observer, Mrs Sturgeon said: “If there is a majority in the Scottish parliament after this election for an independence referendum then Scotland must have the chance to put the recovery into Scotland’s hands.
“For the UK government to seek to block it would be unsustainable.”
Referring to the former US President’s refusal to accept his defeat to Joe Biden in November, she added: “For them to try to take legal action, as has been suggested, would be asking a court to effectively overturn the result of a free and fair democratic election.
“That would be an appalling look for any prime minister. It didn’t work for Donald Trump and it wouldn’t work for Boris Johnson.”
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Douglas Ross, the Scottish Conservative leader, is among those who have taken aim at Mrs Sturgeon for her refusal to offer specific numbers.
Speaking yesterday, he said: “By Nicola Sturgeon’s own admission, the SNP are clueless about the economic impact of independence.”
Also speaking yesterday, Pamela Nash, chief executive of Scotland in Union, said: “While every country is facing huge financial pressures, as part of the UK we have been able to spend billions to protect jobs and our NHS.
“As a new country with no credit history, a separate Scotland would be hit with unfavourable borrowing rates that would have long-lasting consequences for public spending.
“It’s time for some honesty from the SNP – joining the EU would not be guaranteed and would require massive cuts for schools and hospitals, steep tax rises, and the creation of a hard border with England.”
Shadow Scotland Secretary, Labour MP Ian Murray said: “With economists warning Scotland is headed for a jobs crisis it is reckless beyond imagining to call for a referendum during our recovery.
“But hearing the casual way with which Nicola Sturgeon dismisses those independent experts that she is so fond of quoting when they agree with her and her failure to answer any of the tough questions on separation – from effects on income to the border – is playing fast and loose with people’s futures.
“Scotland deserves better than this. Scottish Labour is opposed to independence and a second referendum.
“If you want a country focused on what unites us, not what divides us then use you second vote, on the peach ballot paper, to back Anas Sarwar and Labour’s national recovery plan.”
In an analysis published earlier this month on the Briefings for Britain website, Professor of Economics at City, University of London David Blake claimed Mrs Sturgeon’s independence dream would cost Scotland £26billion a year – equivalent to more than £4,750 per head.
Prof Blake told Express.co.uk: “The UK has just experienced a 10 percent reduction in GDP due to Covid. The largest fall in 300 years. “The UK economy will bounce back from this.
“Scottish independence means a permanent reduction in GDP of 15 percent, which is 50 percent more than Covid. The Scottish economy will never recover from this.”
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