Scotland should be able to leave the UK and become independent without taking on any part of the UK’s debt, insisted Alex Salmond’s new Alba party.
The party announced the new policy after figures released in October last year showed the UK government’s gross debt was over £1.876billion – in part due to massive spending to deal with the coronavirus pandemic.
Mr Salmond, who was previously leader of the SNP, urged his former party to adopt this position on what Alba called a “clean break settlement”.
The policy contrasts with SNP proposals published before the 2014 referendum in the Independence White Paper, which stated that a separate Scotland would take on a “negotiated and agreed” share of Britain’s debt.
However, Alba noted that “as a percentage of GDP, debt has doubled since the financial crisis of 2008, when the government and the Bank of England embarked on general quantitative easing.”
The Alba Party policy – which was crafted by economist and Alba Party Central Scotland candidate Jim Walker – said: ‘This debt is largely owed by one branch of government (the Treasury) to another (the central bank) and therefore does not constitute any legitimate liability for Scots or any other people.
The party has made it clear that it ‘fully rejects any obligation to share the debt accumulated by the printing of central bank money and sees no role for Scotland in paying interest on this debt’.
Mr Salmond said: “Austerity and the coronavirus have changed the economic world and completely changed it. Thus, the independence platform must adapt to new realities.
“They bring with them many new challenges but also great economic opportunities.”
By not taking on any part of Britain’s debt, Alba argued that an independent Scotland would be able to focus its resources on an economic recovery program, with the country “freed from the shackles of British debt, or worse still, paying billions of pounds in the UK”. government in a bizarre annual grant”.
The party wants Scotland to introduce its own currency “as soon as possible” after independence.
Meanwhile, Mr Salmond has made it clear that if the party succeeds in getting MSPs elected to Holyrood in Thursday’s election, the party will put forward a motion asking the Scottish Government to start independence talks with Boris Johnson.
The former prime minister said: “If the people of Scotland support Alba on Thursday, in the first week we will table a motion asking the Scottish government to enter into independence negotiations with the UK government. Then the Scottish Parliament will be able to tackle the task of guaranteeing independence.
He said that to achieve this Scotland would need “a renewed platform for independence”, adding that Alba’s new economic policy paper was a contribution to this “vital debate”.
Meanwhile, economist Dr Walker argued it was “time the economic benefits of independence were recast for the post-Brexit era”.
He said: “Our policy set out today is Alba’s proposal and one that we urge the newly elected Scottish Government to adopt in the independence negotiations which we will ask parliament to ask them to start with the UK government.
“Scotland’s position will be immeasurably stronger if we negotiate inclusively as a Parliament with a supermajority for independence, not as a single political party.”