An SNP MP has said an independent Scotland would adopt the Euro upon rejoining the European Union, stating “that’s not a problem for us” and describing other controversial aspects of European integration, such as free movement, as a big “advantage”.
Foreign affairs spokesperson, Alyn Smith excitedly told Italian newspaper la Repubblica the SNP would ‘totally’ agree to accept the Euro, but said the question would have to be put to a referendum. And in a bizarre admission of Scotland’s economic weakness, Smith openly acknowledged the nation’s eye-watering public debt would prohibit it from taking up the single currency immediately.
His frank disclosure on a thorny question the SNP likes to prevaricate over provoked a fierce reaction from the Scottish Tories. Finance spokesperson, Murdo Fraser labelled Smith’s giddy remarks as “stunningly out of touch”.
“First the SNP would divide us with another independence referendum and then they would have us ditch our internationally-respected currency,” Fraser added.
Asked whether Nicola Sturgeon’s Scottish Nationalists would switch to the Euro as a “condition” to joining the bloc, Smith replied: “Yeah, totally. The commitment is to participate in economic and monetary union.
“The euro is only part of that. We would want to participate in economic and monetary union for macroeconomic stability.
However, “the adoption of the euro, I think is a democratic question that should be put to the people of Scotland in a referendum, same as Sweden did,” Smith cautioned.
Rushing to temper his remarks, a spokesperson for the SNP said: “An independent Scotland will keep the pound and move to our own Scottish currency when it is practicable to do so.
“No EU country can be forced to join the euro. The decision on when to apply for membership of the eurozone rests with the member state. This is self-evidently the case – eight of the 28 EU member states do not currently use the euro. Poland, for example, which joined the EU back in 2004 has not yet done so.”
That might be, but Smith’s outburst suggests that fanatical support for the Euro among a large cohort of die-hard nationalists would saturate political debate, preventing the sleepy approach taken by Poland towards eventually taking up the Euro as tender. Sweden, mentioned by Smith as a model to look to, negotiated a partial opt-out, a privilege that would not be extended to Scotland.
In his interview, Smith said his party should not follow the example of separatist Catalans in running their own, unsanctioned referendum. He struck a far less moderate tone when discussing Scotland’s border with England, which has become the subject of intense speculation in relation to Scottish independence as customs checks would need to be imposed if the government in Edinburgh chose to join the EU.
“On the point about the border, yes, we’ve said this. We’ve admitted this. The border of Carlisle will be an external border of the European Union, Customs Union, and single market. We’ve got obligations of policing that, of course. But there’s still trade happening at Dover. So is the UK that’s the odd one out.”
He continued to disparage Britain’s new found economic freedom, failing to highlight the fact that as a seaport, Dover sits in a trade bottleneck, which automatically sinks much of the burden stemming from additional customs checks brought about by Brexit. By contrast, the border at Carlisle handles £50 billion of trade in goods a year and is extremely fluid. Checks would be disruptive.
“The big issue for us will be the advantage of rejoining the EU Single market, getting back Freedom of movement and of course, trade services as well,” he added.