The Scottish government has unveiled its blueprint for independence, ahead of the Scottish referendum in 10 months time. The government's 649-page, 170,000-word White Paper confirmed its plans to keep sterling as Scotland's currency, reduce corporation tax by three per cent and to stop the roll-out of welfare reforms.
Independence would also see Trident got rid of and the Queen kept as head of state. The document also promises the re-nationalisation of the Royal Mail.
Nicola Sturgeon, deputy first minister, said today that independence is not an end in itself, but the means to building a more successful Scotland. The White Paper gives three "over-riding reasons" for independence: to build a more democratic country, a more prosperous economy and a fairer society.
When it came to fiscal policy, the SNP argues that independence would bring "full control over fiscal policy, with full powers on taxes, spending and borrowing". Currently, the Scottish parliament is responsible for seven per cent of taxes raised in Scotland.
Not all assessments of the country's financial position make independence look wholly viable. A recent report by the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) said that an independent Scotland would need to raise taxes, cut spending - or both - in order to create a sustainable economy and avoid a fiscal black hole. And chief secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander said ahead of the paper that independence could lead to taxes rising by £1,000 per person. Alexander said: “This is a very stark reminder of why it is in the interest of Scotland to pool these risks, not go it alone.”
But first minister Alex Salmond responded to the IFS's report that Scotland "more than pays it way in the United Kingdom at the present moment": "What we should be looking at in Scotland is how we change the circumstances of this country by using investment to grow the economy to generate more jobs, more revenue and give us a sustainable future."