Scotland’s first minister Alex Salmond has insisted that an independent Scotland has “three plan Bs” for its currency in the latest TV debate with Better Together campaign leader Alistair Darling.
Salmond had previously been criticised in an earlier live debate broadcast in Scotland for his failure to outline a clear plan B in response to Darling’s demand to hear the Scottish Government’s alternative currency option if it is unable to form a currency union with the rest of the UK.
However Salmond, who appeared to emerge as the winner of last night’s second debate in early polls, was adamant when questioned again by Darling on his plan B that the independent Fiscal Commission set up by the Scottish Government has already set out a series of alternative currency options if the country becomes independent.
He said: “I set out the options very clearly – three Plan Bs for the price of one. They are just like buses… you expect one and then three turn up at once.”
The Fiscal Commission outlines three possible scenarios for the currency in an independent Scotland in a series of papers including sharing the pound with or without a formal currency union with the rest of the UK or setting up a new currency, all of which it says are viable, but concludes that an agreed sterling union would be the best option for both Scotland and the rest of the UK.
Describing Darling as a one trick pony for continuing to return to the issue of currency, Salmond also reiterated that Scotland wouldn’t “need permission” to use its own currency, implying that the country may look to use the pound without a formal currency union.
Darling did point out that this would create issues for Scotland because it would have no central bank, adding that Salmond’s preferred option for a formal currency union was also a “rotten option” that would be “bad for Scotland.”
He said: “Of course we could use the pound, we could use the rouble … the problem is if you’re using somebody else’s currency you would have no central bank.”
But Salmond went further to argue that any refusal to share the central bank would give Scotland reason to walk away from its share of debt, something which he said no UK chancellor would allow the country to do and that would eventually result in a currency union being negotiated fairly.
“The argument actually is that they will deny us the assets of the Bank of England. The reason that won’t happen is that if you deny us the financial assets, then the UK will get stuck with all of the liabilities,” he added.