AN independent Scotland keeping the pound would be an “act of charity” for the rest of the UK post-Brexit, Angus MacNeil has claimed.
The SNP MP said Scotland’s international exports – driven by whisky, salmon, beef and lamb – were propping up sterling as Britain prepared to leave the EU and, without them, the pound would “plummet further”.
Mr MacNeil, who is chairman of Westminster’s international trade committee, said Scotland was therefore in a strong position to keep sterling if it broke away from the UK.
But the Scottish Conservatives insisted the only way Scotland could keep the pound was by staying inside the union, and accused the SNP of obsessing over independence.
“Obviously Scotland has currency options,” said Mr MacNeil.
“Only this week unionist politicians in Ireland were telling the House of Commons how two currencies work on their island. We will not have to join the euro either as EU members Bulgaria, Denmark, Croatia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania and Sweden prove.
“Most likely Scotland will keep sterling, especially as, without Scotland’s export contributions, sterling would plummet further and we need to ensure the prosperity and stability of our neighbours.
“An independent Scotland keeping the pound would be an act of charity towards our neighbours considering the impact Brexit could have on sterling.”
Currency was back on the agenda after Nicola Sturgeon threatened to call a snap independence referendum if Scotland was dragged out of the single market against its will.
The country’s exports outside the UK rose from £27.7 billion in 2014 to £28.7 billion in 2015, recent figures showed. But, despite rallying in recent weeks, the pound is trading an average 15% lower against the dollar than it was before the shock Brexit vote.
The SNP was warned to “forget” any hopes of a fresh independence poll this week, with Michael Fallon insisting the Tories would block the move at Westminster.
However, Mr MacNeil rounded on the Defence Secretary, who also came under fire for mistakenly calling Scottish Conservatives leader Ruth Davidson “Ruth Harrison”.
The Western Isles MP said: “No one sees his views being of any constitutional significance. He hardly knew the name of the Tory leader in Scotland, which shows how little attention he pays. Perhaps like most of the Westminster Government, when pushed, he would show more respect to Ireland than to Scotland.”
Scottish Conservative chief whip John Lamont said: “Once again we see members of the SNP discussing plans for an independent Scotland rather than working with the UK Government to get the best possible deal from Brexit.
“Scots are fed up of constitutional uncertainty and want the SNP to get back to the day job rather than obsessing about independence.
“The SNP also need to realise that Scots are overwhelmingly in favour of keeping the pound, and the only way to ensure that is by staying in the UK.”
The Western Isles MP was also bullish about Defence Secretary Michael Fallon telling his party to “forget” a fresh independence poll because the Tories would block the move in Parliament.
Mr Fallon was under fire by the SNP in Holyrood this week for mistakenly calling the Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson “Ruth Harrison”.