New SNP deputy leader Keith Brown pledges to win business over to independence

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon with the party's new deputy leader Keith Brown MSP (Jane Barlow/PA Wire)
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon with the party's new deputy leader Keith Brown MSP (Jane Barlow/PA Wire)

NEW SNP deputy leader Keith Brown will launch a charm offensive to sell the party’s economic plan for independence to businesses and trade unions.

One of his first jobs in post will be to chair a series of events about the Sustainable Growth Commission with party members, many of whom have been critical of the document.

But Mr Brown, who was elected as Nicola Sturgeon’s number two on Friday, revealed he will also be reaching out beyond the core vote.

He said: “There will be a wider discussion with civic Scotland, trade unions and business. That will be a separate process. That is fundamental to the job.”

The 354-page economic blueprint, compiled by former SNP MSP and RBS banker Andrew Wilson, has proven controversial within the independence movement.

Former SNP MP George Kerevan won a round of applause during the SNP conference in Aberdeen this weekend when he warned the report would leave an independent Scotland “at the mercy” of the banks.

And the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) has warned the plans would be a “continuation of austerity”.

Mr Brown, who would not specifically back the report’s recommendations, said he welcomed debate about the prospectus.

He said: “I would like to see what the members have to say. In general I think it is a very substantial, well researched and well founded piece of work.

“I entirely agree with its commitment to oppose austerity, have increasing public expenditure for public services and I think it is a very serious piece of work.”

He added:“There are different points of view in the party. I acknowledge that and I think that’s healthy.

“The party has shown in the past, for example with its debates on Nato, that we can have these issues where there are really strong opinions on different sides but we do it very maturely.”

He also insisted his new job would not affect his ability to continue to serve in the Cabinet as Economy Secretary.