I fully support Mr Osborne’s stance that a single currency between the rest of the UK and an “independent” Scotland would not work. It is bizarre that Mr Salmond calls this “bullying”. Mr Salmond has to accept that if he succeeds in winning a vote to leave, it is then a matter for the rest of the UK and not for him how we negotiate the final settlement from our side.
Indeed, warning Scotland not to opt to be part of the pound is right for Scotland as well as for the rest of the UK. What part of the sorry experiences of Cyprus, Greece, Portugal, Spain, Ireland and Italy has Mr Salmond not understood? We have before our eyes the results of currency union without fiscal union, without discipline over borrowings, and without proper levels of transfers from rich to poor in the Euro area. Why would anyone want to recommend to the Scots being in a currency union where they had no influence over the monetary policy and where there was no common fiscal policy?
Mr Salmond now retaliates by the most unpleasant threat that Scotland would walk away from the Union without taking its share of the debt. British fair play and commonsense argues that of course Scotland has to take its share of the debt, as it enjoyed helping us spend the money. Scotland should remember that if they try that tactic, there are plenty of ways the rest of the UK can also negotiate forcefully.
How much of the oil belongs to the rest of the UK rather than Scotland? How do you draw the border out from the coast into the North Sea? Why shouldn’t Scotland assume full responsibility for the debts of RBS? What charges would the rest of the UK levy for Scots using rest of the Uk facilities?
The more Mr Salmond hits out, the more he needs to understand that the rest of the UK will harden its attitude to the negotiation. Many people in the rest of the UK are with the Prime Minister in wanting the Scots to remain, keeping our country united. If the Scots vote for Out, the mood will change. Then the rest of the UK, rejected by the Scots, will want their politicians to do a great deal for those of us who remain in the union.
Most people in the rest of the UK do not see the union as a simple commercial transaction. We are not constantly adding up how much we pay in tax and comparing it with what we get back. There are other parts of the UK who get a worse financial deal than Scotland, who accept that is part of belonging to union with others.