Speaking to an audience at Edinburgh University tonight about the Scottish independence referendum, Scottish Secretary Alistair Carmichael will recite a long list of positive reasons why Scotland benefits from being part of a strong United Kingdom.
He will say that the pro-UK side need to be less shy about talking up the strengths of the UK because there are plenty of people willing to talk it down.
Listing the reasons for staying part of the UK family, Mr Carmichael will say that ‘Scotland should be proud of what we are achieving, not thinking about leaving’.
He will also make clear that Scotland is doing well because we are part of the UK, not despite it, and that the Scottish Government have provided no plan for how they will replace these benefits.
Mr Carmichael will say:
Those of us who want Scotland to stay part of the UK need to be less shy when it comes to talking up the benefits the UK brings us. There are plenty of people out there who are more than happy to talk the UK down or blame it for every conceivable ill.
If we pause to reflect on what we get from being part of the UK family then we should be proud of what we are achieving, not thinking about leaving.
The UK works well for Scotland. We are benefitting because we are part of the UK, not despite being part of the UK. Just think about some of those benefits that we don’t shout about nearly enough and our opponents try to pinch or airbrush.
These benefits include:
- A UK economy with the strongest growth in the G7.
- Record low interest rates.
- Inflation down this week to just 1.7%
- A strong and stable currency that has the respect of the international markets.
- Scottish economic performance, as part of the UK, is second only to London and the South East of England.
- Our unemployment rate is lower than the UK average.
- Our employment rate is higher than the UK average.
- As part of a larger UK, we are predicted to be Europe’s largest economy by 2030.
- We have a truly single UK jobs market with no barriers to movement (national insurance, tax, pensions) which provides opportunities for thousands of Scots.
- We have a single tax and regulatory system that allows the financial services sector and a host of other businesses to base themselves in Scotland without concern about the location of their customer base.
- Being part of a larger UK economy we know we have a lender of last resort big enough to protect our banks and our savings.
- As part of a larger UK our government can afford to invest in the North Sea’s future and absorb the impact of a 40% drop in production this year and the on-going decline of those resources that we know is coming the years ahead.
- Scotland’s big employers are queuing up to say the UK provides strength, stability and jobs for Scotland . BP, Shell, Aggreko, Babcock, Standard Life, Black Rock are just some of the recent examples.
- Being part of a big, successful UK economy with a stable currency, and low interest rates and a single tax and regulatory system also keeps our mortgage costs low.
- It keeps our insurance costs low.
- It keeps our energy bills down.
- The UK’s size means Scotland has more influence in the EU, where we have a louder voice in the Council of Ministers, speaking up for Scotland’s fishing interests, our oil & gas sector, our financial services.
- We have influence at the G7, G20 and NATO
- We have an overseas aid budget that is now the second highest in the world and that allows Scotland to contribute more to humanitarian causes than we ever could as a smaller country.
- And it is also worth saying that the UK has led the world with inspirational projects like Band Aid, Comic Relief and Sport relief that have raised hundreds of millions of pounds through UK generosity and creativity. Scotland played our full part in last week’s Sport Relief effort that has already raised more than £53 million for people in the UK and around the world.
Mr Carmichael continued:
We have a strong Scotland with a strong Scottish Parliament in a United Kingdom.
We can take the decisions with regard to our health, education, justice, transport and the environment at Holyrood. But we can do so while retaining our proud place at the heart of the UK family.
A family that we have built and which continues to provide opportunity and security on an unprecedented size and scale. We should keep building that family, not break it apart.