SNP POLL: Will Scotland be financially better off if it leaves the UK?
Tory MP calls out Nicola Sturgeon for chatting during his speech
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Today, SNP Deputy Leader Keith Brown will open the conference, which will be held online due to a surge in Covid cases. First Minister Nicola Sturgeon will close the event with a keynote address on Monday. Mr Brown plans to call on the Scottish public to foster solidarity in the push for independence, asking SNP supporters to persuade their peers that leaving the UK will create a fairer, wealthier and happier nation. But will it?
Polling data, gathered by YouGov, has shown that 57 percent of English nationals believe Scotland would be financially worse off if the nation separated from the UK, compared to just 12 percent who said it would be better off.
A report by London School of Economics (LSE), released earlier this year, predicted that Scotland’s economy would shrink by at least £11bn a year if it became independent.
LSE experts said the impact of independence on Scotland’s trade with both the UK and the EU would shrink the nation’s economy in the long run by between 6.3 percent and 8.7 percent.
The Scottish government has been campaigning for Scotland to re-join the EU, blaming the impact of Brexit. The SNP points to the Scottish seafood industry and the influence of post-Brexit customs controls.
But while re-joining the EU would give Scotland’s economy a small boost, parting from the UK would undo those gains tenfold, data suggests.
The UK is Scotland’s largest and most important trading partner, accounting for 61 percent of its exports and 67 percent of its imports – around four times greater than its trade with the EU.
LSE predict independence would increase trading costs with the rest of the UK by 15 to 30 percent.
Hanwei Huang, one of the financial report’s authors, said: “This analysis shows that, at least from a trade perspective, independence would leave Scotland considerably poorer than staying in the United Kingdom.”
Experts have claimed that leaving the UK would spark a huge rise in taxes for the Scottish people and decreased spending in services like the NHS.
But Fiona Hyslop, the Scottish government’s economy secretary, disagrees.
She said the country would benefit enormously once independence was truly established and its government had full control of its economy.
Ms Hyslop hoped Scotland would follow in the footsteps of Norway, Denmark and Ireland whose economies have thrived under EU trade.
She added: “In the real world, through membership of the EU, independent Ireland has dramatically reduced its trade dependence on the UK, diversifying into Europe and in the process its national income per capita has overtaken the UK’s.
“With our economic resources and advantages, control of economic policy and membership of the EU Scotland would be very well placed to grow the economy.”
Do you think Scotland would be financially better off in a decade if it leaves the UK? Tell Express.co.uk your opinion in the comments section.
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Financial security for Scotland has never been so important, as Covid has demanded an almighty recovery budget from the UK of approximately £500billion.
A YouGov survey of Scottish adults carried out in May 2021 suggests that, since the pandemic began, the amount of Scottish people who want to remain part of the UK has risen by roughly five percent.
Many argue the impressive roll-out of the furlough scheme as well as the vaccine programme have re-built Scottish public confidence in Westminster.
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The pandemic has also hindered SNP objectives by continuing to push back the date the party hope to hold an independence referendum. At the moment, Ms Sturgeon indicates it will happen before the end of 2023.
A motion, to be discussed at the conference this weekend, states the Scottish public should “not have their health, wellbeing and future economic potential compromised by holding a referendum on independence before it is safe to do so, and that this decision should be determined by data driven criteria about the clear end to the public health crisis, which would allow a full, normal, and energetic referendum campaign”.
Daily Covid cases in Scotland have seen an increase of more than 70 percent between August 16 and August 29.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon came under fire earlier this week in Holyrood parliament, as Conservative MP Douglas Ross said she had “got her priorities wrong”.
He added: “Another independence referendum is front and centre of the First Minister’s plans for the year ahead.
“In a statement that is 27 pages long, it takes to just the fourth paragraph for Nicola Sturgeon to mention independence.
“SNP members are heckling; this is a debate.
“I am quite happy to take an intervention from any member who thinks it’s correct that in the time of a pandemic, that it’s right for the First Minister to yet-again prioritise independence over anything else.”
Do you think Sturgeon’s unwavering efforts to secure an independence referendum are neglecting more important issues to be tackled in Scotland? Vote now.
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The announcement in Holyrood parliament of the programme for government was delayed from last week to this week because Ms Sturgeon was finalising a deal with the Scottish Green Party.
In a huge step forward for Ms Sturgeon’s independence battle, co-leaders of the Greens, Patrick Harvie and Lorna Slater, signed an agreement which would create a government majority for independence in the Holyrood chamber.
Commenting on the delay, Labour’s Neil Bibby told The Times: “It’s disappointing that the Scottish government has seen fit to kick programme for government into the long grass and instead focus on self-congratulation and grandstanding.
“The people of Scotland need a government focused on our national recovery not self-serving political deals.”
The deal established that the question on the independence ballot, ‘Should Scotland be an independent country?’, should appear in the same format as the one used during the 2014 referendum.
In 2014, 55.3 percent of votes went in favour of staying in the UK, and 44.7 percent of voters wanted Scotland to become an independent country.
Do you think Scotland will vote to leave the UK? Have your say in our poll.
Fresh from agreeing a cooperation deal with the Scottish Greens, the SNP’s conference will consider Scotland’s role on the world stage as a leader in climate policy, ahead of the COP26 meeting in November.
However, there is no mention of the future of North Sea oil and gas on the conference agenda, one of Scotland’s most valuable assets.
On Sunday, the SNP conference will discuss its objective to remove nuclear weapons from the shores of Clyde if an independent Scotland is achieved.
The Financial Times reported how the UK Government has drawn up contingency plans to move the nuclear deterrent abroad if an independent Scotland refused to allow continued use of facilities.
Should the UK force continued use of the Clyde nuclear base if Scotland votes for independence? Get involved in the debate below.
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