Job cuts at BP show that Scotland would be in a financial mess if it was independent, claims Conservative MSP Alex Johnstone

James Nickerson
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Oil was around $100 a barrel in the build-up to the Scottish independence referendum (Source: Getty)

The decision by BP to cut 600 jobs from its North Sea business is proof that an independent Scotland would have been a "financial mess", a Member of Scottish Parliament has claimed.

Conservative MSP Alex Johnstone said the announcement of job cuts was devastating for individuals and families, urging first minister Nicola Sturgeon to draw up a contingency plan.

"This shows how much of a mess Scotland would be in financially if we'd sleep walked our way into independence. This will have an on-going effect on our local communities and Scotland’s economy," Johnstone said. “The Scottish National Party said the oil industry would make the whole of Scotland financially secure and even last week, some of them were telling us that there was no crisis in the industry.”

Read more: Could a Brexit vote lead to a second Scottish independence referendum?

The cuts to jobs in Scotland come as BP axes around 4,000 jobs this year, as the oil giant adapts to a tougher business environment in which oil prices are expected to remain lower for longer.

Before Scotland went to the polls in 2014 the price of oil was around $100 a barrel, a figure on which the Scottish National party based its claims that an independent Scotland could survive fiscally. Yet oil prices have since plummeted, now hovering at around $30 a barrel.

However, Sturgeon denied the claims that the case she made for independence was based just on oil revenues and said the figure used at the time was in line with other estimates, according to the Telegraph.

Read more: A yes vote would have plunged Scotland into a deep depression

Responding to the job cuts, Sturgeon said: “We are reminded again today that this is a very difficult time indeed for people working in the North Sea. It's also important though to note and to welcome BP's continued commitment to the North Sea."

"I will be making sure that the task force that I established round about this time last year is focused on doing everything we practically can do to help both individuals who are facing the prospect of redundancy, but also helping the industry in general as it seeks to cope with what are very difficult market conditions," she added.

Meanwhile, Scottish secretary David Mundell announced he would meet energy minister Fergus Ewing to discuss the job losses.

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