A senior UK Government minister has claimed there is more evidence backing the existence of the Loch Ness monster than the economic case for Scottish independence.
Chief Treasury secretary Danny Alexander used humour to accuse the SNP of peddling “dangerous myths” about oil and gas receipts and the national deficit to try to persuade people to vote Yes.
Speaking at the Scotland Office in Edinburgh yesterday, the Highland MP claimed the Scottish Government’s figures did not add up and there would be a hole in an independent country’s finances worth tens of billions of pounds.
Mr Alexander said ministers in Edinburgh were ignoring the fact the nation would have a larger deficit and oil revenues were falling.
The chief secretary said the information ministers were putting in the public domain was ill-informed at best and deeply misleading at worst.
Mr Alexander told an audience of business leaders that the SNP’s figure of £1.5trillion – the wholesale value of remaining oil and gas reserves – did not include extraction costs.
He said the Scottish Government forecasted that the country’s share of revenues would be £7billion in 2012-13, but the total sum of money for the UK was about £6billion.
Mr Alexander said: “HM Revenue and Customs have today confirmed that total UK North Sea revenues last year was £4.7billion.
“The revenues coming from oil for the whole of the UK have been more than £3billion below the Scottish Government’s most cautious forecasts.”
Mr Alexander said the SNP’s lowest forecast for revenues between 2012-17 was £41billion, rising to £57billion, but the Office for Budget Responsibility said the figure for the whole of the UK would be £25billion.
“It does not matter how deep you drill into the figures, they simply do not add up,” he added.
“And it leaves tens of billions of pounds missing from the Scottish Government’s white paper.
“It will have to be raised from Scottish businesses and individuals or cut from Scottish services.”
Mr Alexander said the Scottish Government was promising tax revenues and public spending that it could not deliver.
“There is more evidence for the Loch Ness Monster than for many of the calculations and the claims that have been put forward by the Nationalists to support their case for independence,” he added.