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Remaining part of UK ‘economically high-risk’ for Scotland, claims ex-SNP MSP

Andrew Wilson was writing in Perspective Magazine (Jane Barlow/PA)
Andrew Wilson was writing in Perspective Magazine (Jane Barlow/PA)

Scotland remaining part of the UK would be “economically high-risk”, according to the former SNP MSP who chaired the Sustainable Growth Commission.

Andrew Wilson – who served in Holyrood between 1999 and 2003 – talked up the positives of a vote to leave the UK and return to the European Union, but admitted there would be “challenges” in rejoining the bloc.

Scots will have to weigh up if the benefits of being in the EU outweigh the negatives of remaining in the UK, Mr Wilson said.

Writing in the magazine Perspective, he also cautioned against a post-independence austerity programme and instead said the Scottish Government should invest in the transition to net-zero and recovery from Covid-19.

“It stands to reason that if Brexit is problematic for Britain’s trade, then Scotland returning to the EU will create challenges,” Mr Wilson wrote.

“The difference of course is that if Brexit is a choice to exit the benefits of the single market, independence would be a choice to return to them.

“Transitional challenges will therefore be about benefits sought rather than departed from in Brexit.

“Scots have the choice of independence and a return to the European Union. Not choosing that would be economically high-risk.

“The process will not be simple; it will be hard work and take effort, but, like most acts of self-improvement, it will also be satisfying and meaningful.

“Of course it will be challenging, but it will be worth it.”

Ensuring independence is successful, Mr Wilson added, will depend largely on decisions made after separation, but the issue for voters will be if Scotland is more likely to make good economic decisions as an independent country than the UK Government would be able to on its behalf.

“If Scotland makes bad choices the country won’t achieve its potential,” he wrote.

“The question is whether it’s more likely to get the policy mix right on its own than as part of the UK, with a government it doesn’t support.

“Policies it would make as an independent country include a pro-migration stance agreed across all the parties in Scotland, in contrast to the approach of the UK Home Office.

“The economic imperative for this in Scotland is clear, as is political consent.”

But Pamela Nash, chief executive of the Scotland in Union campaign group, said: “The greatest risk to our economy would be leaving the UK.

“Even though many of us still wish we were in the EU, the fact is that our trade with the rest of the UK is worth more than every country in the EU combined.

“The best future for Scotland is undeniably as part of the UK, protecting people’s jobs and livelihoods.”

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