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Scottish Secretary comments on independence white paper

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Alistair Carmichael desribes Scottish Government's blueprint for independence as 'a wish list with no price list'.

Saltire

The 670 page independence white paper provides no answers on crucial questions like currency, pensions and the cost of independence, Scottish Secretary Alistair Carmichael said.

‘Rarely have so many words been used to answer so little’, said Mr Carmichael following the publication of the paper.

He also expressed disappointment that the Scottish Government had deliberately sought to ignore the uncertainties and difficulties of independence. He said it was astonishing that the Scottish Government had refused to put a price tag on independence even though their private cabinet paper had discussed costs.

Mr Carmichael said:

This was their chance to level with people. They have chosen a different path and people will judge them on that.

For years we have been promised that all the answers on independence would be in the white paper. The big day has finally arrived and we have 670 pages that leaves us none the wiser on crucial questions such as currency, pensions and the cost of independence.

Rarely have so many words been used to answer so little.

People will draw their own conclusions that the Scottish Government have deliberately sought to ignore the uncertainties and difficulties of independence. We are simply expected to believe that everything will be perfect after we leave the UK. We are asked to accept that ending a 300 year United Kingdom will be straightforward. We are told it will all be alright on the night.

We know that the terms of independence would need to be negotiated with many countries including the rest of the UK and the EU. An honest assessment of the challenges and uncertainties of leaving the UK would have seriously helped the debate between now and September. Instead we have been given a wish with no price list. Today was their chance to level with people. They have chosen a different path and people in Scotland will judge them on that.

It is astonishing that the Scottish Government can sit in private discussing the costs of independence and then refuse to share those figure with the Scottish people. John Swinney’s leaked paper said it would cost £600m every year to run an independent tax system but today we saw nothing about that.

It looks more and more like the Scottish Government will continue to keep these things private. If they had convincing answers then today really would have been the day to share them with everyone.

‘From now until September 18th we will keep making the positive case for the UK. It works well for Scotland. It gives us the best of both worlds. It offers us a better future. We will fight hard to preserve it against those who have been obsessed with independence for their entire political lives but now seek to disguise it.

Published 26 November 2013