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by Jenni Davidson
04 May 2021
Alex Salmond: It is ‘entirely fair’ that an independent Scotland takes no share of UK debt

Alex Salmond - Image credit: Paul Heartfield/Holyrood

Alex Salmond: It is ‘entirely fair’ that an independent Scotland takes no share of UK debt

It is “entirely fair” that an independent Scotland takes no share of UK debt, Alex Salmond has said.

He said 90 per cent of UK Treasury debt since 2010 and virtually all of it through the pandemic has been financed through quantitative easing or “money printing on the Bank of England”.

While that is a liability for the Treasury, it is an asset for the Bank of England, meaning it equals out overall, Salmond pointed out.

“Why it is entirely fair – and why it the situation is substantially different from even 2014, when I think about 25 per cent of UK public debt was due to quantitative easing, and it’s totally transformed now – why it’s entirely fair is that if Scotland was hosting a share of the liability, we’d be equally entitled to a share of the assets held by the Bank of England.

“Now, as you may remember, in 2014, as first minister I put forward the proposal that we should share assets and share liabilities, that we should be in a monetary union with the Bank of England, maybe renamed of course, but who knows, but nonetheless a central bank which would be covering the rest of the UK and Scotland however it was named.

“That proposal was roundly rejected by the then chancellor George Osborne, and indeed not just by George Osborne but by the previous chancellor Alistair Darling and the leaders of all the unionist parties, and I have no indication that any of them have changed their mind.

“That being so, and the proposal for asset and liability sharing has been dismissed by Westminster, then of course the natural position for an independence negotiation to take place would be a clean break policy, that is, no access to liabilities but also no access to the assets either.”

Salmond said the policy was not only “entirely fair” but takes account of the changes in the world since 2014.

“The world has changed and therefore the case for independence has to be presented relevant to 2021 and beyond, not as the world as it was.”

That applies not only to debt and assets but also to other issues such as Europe and reconstruction, he said.

Other people might have better ideas, he added, but in this campaign it had been Alba that had been bringing forward ideas on these subjects which “should be the meat and drink of a crucial election campaign in Scotland – not the only thing to be discussed, but certainly one of the key things to be discussed”.

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