Scotland has rebutted claims from the UK that a vote for
independence will be punitively expensive, stressing the
economy's strength and demanding its fair share of assets in
the event of a break-up of the union.
Scotland is calling for its share of £1.3 trillion pounds of
UK assets to help support an independent Scottish economy,
which finance minister John Swinney said is already one of
the richest in the world.
"Everyone in Scotland has contributed to this 1.3
trillion-pound stockpile of UK assets and Scotland is
entitled to a fair share, giving us an even stronger base to
build on," he said.
The assets include buildings and property, but also payments
due to the UK government and a share of UK government
investments, he added.
"In the case of physical assets overseas or defence assets
that cannot be transferred or shared with Scotland, then the
result will be for Scotland to receive a cash share of their
value or to see our share of UK debts reduced," he added.
Scotland votes on Sept. 18th over whether or not to become
independent, and both sides of the debate are seeking to
reassure voters of their economic credibility.
The minister was speaking ahead of a detailed breakdown of
the Westminster government's estimates of the costs of
Scottish independence and Scotland's budget deficit due on
Earlier this week, the UK finance ministry said Scotland had
not fully budgeted for setting up a new administration that
could cost Scottish taxpayers over 1.5 billion pounds.
"Scotland has benefitted from all the UK's assets for many
years and will continue to do so if it remains part of the
UK," said a spokesman for the UK government's Scotland
Office, adding that negotiations over a post-independence
settlment could only take place after the vote.
Swinney said that high Scottish national debt, a source of
concern for those sceptical about Scottish independence,
could be reduced by offsetting it against assets.
The Scottish government estimates that by offsetting 10
billion pounds of assets in this way, the independent nation
could save 400 million pounds on paying off UK debt every
Scottish leader Alex Salmond, who also runs the ruling
Scottish National Party, said that Scotland would be becoming
independent "in more promising circumstances than virtually
any nation in history," if it votes for secession.
The British government said Scotland's current prosperity was
not relevant to the question of how an independent Scotland
"Yet again the Scottish government is answering the wrong
question," UK Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander
"They are living in the past, basing their analysis on
Scotland as part of the UK. All this shows is that we are
better off together as part of the UK."