Independent Scotland would use sterling ‘for as long as necessary’ – Sturgeon
An independent Scotland would continue to use sterling “for as long as necessary”, Nicola Sturgeon has said.
The eventual aim would be to establish a Scottish currency when certain economic tests were met, though the timescale on that is “not absolutely fixed” she said.
The First Minister was taking part in the last of the leaders’ debates broadcast on BBC Scotland on Tuesday evening.
She said: “We would use sterling for as long as necessary. The policy would then be to move to an independent Scottish currency when the economic conditions, the fiscal conditions, the issues around trading and stability were right to do that.”
But Sturgeon added the vote on Thursday was for the Scottish Parliament, not an independence referendum.
She said: “We’re not voting yes or no to independence. I want, once the crisis has passed and we’re into recovery, for us to be able to choose our own future.”
However, Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross insisted an SNP majority would mean the First Minister would “take her eye off the ball for Scotland's recovery” and instead focus on a second referendum.
He said: “If the SNP get a majority and go unchecked in the next parliament, this will be the debate we have in Scotland and not on recovery and rebuilding.”
Likewise, Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar urged the people of Scotland to choose to focus on national recovery rather than independence.
He said: “I don’t want us to debate the currency, I want us to debate recovery.”
But pro-independence Scottish Green co-leader Patrick Harvie insisted having an independent currency in an independent Scotland would allow it to make “big economic choices”.
He argued the groundwork for setting up a new currency should be laid as part of the transition process, in contrast to the SNP’s position.
Harvie said: “The purpose of independence is giving the people of Scotland the ability of making the big economic choices about how we’re going to invest in the future, about how we’re going to take a different economic course than the unfair, unequal, broken economy that came before COVID that’s been managed by the UK Government.
“Without an independent currency, I think you’ll lack the ability to make those really big choices.”
Scottish Lib Dem leader Willie Rennie said it was clear there was “no consensus” on the matter, adding: “Despite the fact it’s been the policy of the SNP for generations, they still don't know what the currency would be.”
He also said the people of Scotland would be “bemused” that independence and the currency was being debated again despite the pressures of the pandemic.