SNP 'can't answer basic questions' says Jackie Baillie
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Alison Thewliss MP, the SNP’s Shadow Chancellor, backed comments made by Senior Nat Roger Mullin who claimed Scotland had got “no responsibility for the historic debt built up by the UK Government.” The position is in stark contrast to the SNPs proposals in its white paper on independence from 2014.
Published under Mr Salmond’s leadership, the paper said an independent Scotland would take on a “negotiated and agreed” share of the UK debt.
But Mr Mullin, who served as MP for Kirkcaldy between 2015 and 2017, told the Scotland’s Choice podcast: “The debt position of Scotland at the moment is entirely the responsibility of the UK.
“Under international law, if we become independent, we have got no responsibility for the historic debt built up by the UK Government.”
Alison Thewliss added: “I agree with a lot of what Roger has said as well but I think again it’s about normalising that.
“Most countries have this, most countries particularly after coronavirus and all the additional spending that has happened over the past year, most countries are in a similar boat.
“But that doesn’t mean there are independent countries.
“All of them are managing their affairs, all of them are getting on with the business of being a country in the world and working with our neighbours and looking after their people, doing all these really normal things.
“It’s not something that should be held up as being the exception, it’s the norm.
“Most countries do operate with some deal of debt and we need to normalise that saying it’s not a barrier, it’s how things work.”
It comes after the Treasury’s Block Grant Transparency revealed the UK Government provided an additional £14.5 billion for Scotland since the start of the pandemic.
This support includes furlough scheme funding, of which SNP ministers have requested an extension, support for self-employed people and help for businesses.
Following the record COVID-19 funding, it is estimated the UK national debt is around £1.8trillion.
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Following the comments, Holyrood opposition parties accused the SNP of “peddling bizarre fantasies” to Scots.
Daniel Johnson MSP, Scottish Labour finance spokesperson, added: “This is fantasy economics from the SNP.
“Faced with the weakness of the economic case for independence, several senior SNP figures have taken leave of their senses and are now peddling bizarre fantasies to the public.”
Liz Smith MSP, Scottish Conservative finance spokesperson, added: “We’ve got access to a world leading vaccine programme because we are part of the UK, and almost a million jobs have been protected by the Treasury’s furlough scheme.
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“Before the referendum in 2014, the SNP agreed an independent Scotland would take on a share of UK debt.
“So these comments from Alison Thewliss and Roger Mullin are utterly bizarre in light of what the SNP said before – even more so when they come in the middle of the pandemic.”
Pamela Nash, chief executive of Scotland in Union, said: “The SNP makes it up as it goes along.
“To tell voters that Scotland would leave the UK with all the benefits and none of the costs is deliberately misleading and downright dishonest.
“It’s time the SNP tells the truth to voters.”
It comes after an Institute for Government report revealed a soaring deficit and “difficult policy choices” in the form of swingeing cuts or tax rises would be on the cards for an Independent Scotland.
The report, published earlier this year, also suggested that Scotland’s fiscal deficit could be as high as 25 percent of GDP as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, putting Scottish independence into question.
The UK Government has been approached for comment.
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