Scotland politics

Attack on SNP over independence currency plans

Euro notes and coins
Image caption Danny Alexander claims there are lessons for Scotland in the eurozone crisis

Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander has claimed that the debt crisis in the eurozone has shown the value to Scotland of remaining in the United Kingdom.

Mr Alexander is preparing to deliver a speech highlighting what he sees as the economic risks of independence.

He claimed uncertainty on the SNP's plans for Scotland's currency after independence is "deeply damaging".

The Scottish government has accused Mr Alexander of "scaremongering".

In a text of the speech released in advance, Mr Alexander said: "If Scotland wants to keep the pound and if Scotland wants to keep the full benefits of keeping the pound, it can only do so by remaining part of the United Kingdom monetary and fiscal union.

"To do anything else would put these benefits at risk."

'Deafening silence'

Mr Alexander claimed the eurozone's problems show the kind of difficulty an independent Scotland could experience.

He added: "The message from the eurozone is simple. It is extremely challenging to combine monetary union and full fiscal independence.

"This is a matter on which the SNP has been uncharacteristically silent. Yet it is one of the most central issues that need to be understood and debated.

"That silence is not only deafening, but deeply damaging."

The comments have been strongly criticised by the Scottish government.

A spokesman for Finance Secretary John Swinney said: "The reality is that there are nearly 40 countries in the world in currency unions, and they are all independent nations.

"Independence will give Scotland control of the economic and fiscal levers we need to strengthen recovery, boost growth and create jobs."

There was qualified support for Mr Alexander's views from Labour.

Shadow Secretary of State for Scotland Margaret Curran said: "If a separate Scotland did use Sterling, we would be in a weakened position of using a currency over which we had given up all influence and control.

"All the key monetary decisions would be taken without Scotland's voice at the table and that is against our national interest."

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