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Scottish independence: 'Yes' vote means leaving pound, says Osborne


By Andrew Black & Aiden James BBC Scotland

George Osborne Chancellor George Osborne outlined his thinking during a speech in Edinburgh


UK Chancellor George Osborne has said a vote for Scottish independence would mean walking away from the pound.

He said there was "no legal reason" why the rest of the UK would want to share sterling with an independent Scotland.

The Scots government wants Scotland to retain sterling as part of a currency union with the rest of the UK in the event of a referendum "Yes" vote.

Deputy Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said Westminster was trying to "lay down the law to Scotland".

Ahead of the independence referendum on 18 September, Mr Osborne set out his position during a speech in Edinburgh, as he published the latest Treasury analysis on the issue.

Liberal Democrat Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander has supported Mr Osborne's position, with backing also expected from Labour shadow chancellor Ed Balls.

Mr Osborne said: "The pound isn't an asset to be divided up between two countries after a break-up like a CD collection.

"If Scotland walks away from the UK, it walks away from the UK pound."

The Chancellor went on: "There's no legal reason why the rest of the UK would need to share its currency with Scotland, as the Treasury's publication today clearly shows.

"So when the Nationalists say the pound is as much ours as the rest of the UK's, are they really saying that an independent Scotland could insist that taxpayers in a nation it had just voted to leave had to continue to back the currency of this new, foreign country?

"Had to consider the circumstances of this foreign country when setting their interest rates? Stand behind the banks of this foreign country as a lender of last resort? Or stand behind its foreign government when it needed public spending support?

"That is patently absurd."

The Scottish government's currency union plan would also see the services of the Bank of England retained, if Scotland became independent after the 18 September referendum.

The Chancellor added: "The UK is growing faster than any other advanced economy in Europe, and within the Union, Scotland is growing faster than the rest."

"Nothing could be more damaging to economic security here in Scotland than dividing our United Kingdom."

Following Mr Osborne's speech, Mr Alexander said the Treasury had provided "crystal clear" analysis that a currency union would create unacceptable risks both for Scotland and the rest of the United Kingdom.

He also called on the Scottish government to set out an alternative currency proposal.

Mr Alexander added: "As a Scot and as Liberal Democrat Chief Secretary to the UK Treasury, on the basis of this analysis, I couldn't recommend a currency union to the people of Scotland and my party couldn't agree to such a proposition for the rest of the UK.

"The SNP continue to pretend that an independent Scotland could continue to share the pound. It couldn't, without agreement."

The Lib Dem MP said: "This isn't bluff, or bullying, it's a statement of fact."

Mr Balls, who is also expected to release a statement on the issue, previously told LBC Radio: "I don't think it's right for us to tell Scotland what they must do, but I don't see how you could have a negotiation about a Scottish separate country keeping the pound, which would add up either for Scotland or for the rest of the United Kingdom."

It is understood former Chancellor Alistair Darling, who is leading the Better Together campaign to keep the Union, was instrumental in getting the three Westminster parties to agree a joint currency position