Scotland could survive "perfectly well, economically, if it was independent", says former Chancellor
Speaking in an interview with Holyrood, Denis Healey, who was Labour Chancellor of the Exchequer before Margaret Thatcher’s Conservative Government came to power, said the UK would “suffer enormously” without the income but he accepted the wish for independence was a “natural desire”.
Now almost 96, Lord Healey of Riddlesden, said: “I think they [Westminster politicians] are concerned about Scotland taking the oil, I think they are worried stiff about it.
“I think we would suffer enormously if the income from Scottish oil stopped but if the Scots want it [independence], they should have it and we would just need to adjust but I would think Scotland could survive perfectly well, economically, if it was independent. Yes, I would think so…with the oil.” Holding the role of Chancellor between 1974 and 1979, he admitted that money should have been invested in an oil fund like Norway has, but said, “it wasn’t my responsibility by then.” He said that the value of oil to the UK was a motivation behind the opposition from Westminster to independence now and in the 1970s.
And he said: “I think we did underplay the value of the oil to the country because of the threat of nationalism but that was mainly down to Thatcher.
“We didn’t actually see the rewards from oil in my period in office because we were investing in the infrastructure rather than getting the returns and really, Thatcher wouldn’t have been able to carry out any of her policies without that additional 5 per cent on GDP from oil. Incredible good luck she had from that.” With debate in Westminster on whether there should be an in/out referendum on Europe, Healey said he would now vote to leave the European Union and was against the introduction of the single European currency.
He said: “I can see a lot in favour of coming out of Europe and the thing is that we did keep out of most of the European institutions but we still are interdependent because of the relationship and if we decided not to be part of the EU, I think that in many ways, we would gain from it.
“It is a confusing time but now I would vote in favour of leaving Europe. I think there are a lot of problems, particularly around money which so far have not been solved.
“I firstly don’t think the euro was a good idea because the trouble with Europe was it would never work well because of the olive line; north of the olive line, they pay their taxes and have some controls of their spending and south of the line, they don’t pay tax if they can avoid it and have no control of spending whatever so a disastrous situation developing in the Mediterranean countries.”