We all want the best for our country. The last few years haven’t been easy. Turning around Britain’s – and Scotland’s – fortunes has been a collective effort taking time, hard work and sacrifice from millions of people. Today there is a real sense that Britain is once again on the rise.
The UK is forecast to recover faster than every other major economy in the G7. Within the UK, Scotland has more people in work than at any time in its history.
I’m ambitious for Britain and for Scotland too. That’s why the government’s long term economic plan is for all parts of our United Kingdom. There’s more we need to do to build a country where there are jobs and opportunities for all, including buying a home of your own. Over 1000 people in Scotland have bought a new home through the UK government’s Help to Buy scheme.
In September people in Scotland will take a very big decision – whether to stay within the UK or go it alone. Today’s generation of voters will be making a choice for themselves, but also for their children and future generations to come.
The UK is the greatest family of nations on earth. We work, trade and live together. And we pull together when times are tough. I don’t want to weaken our economic strength by dividing it with a border.
The referendum is a choice between two very different visions of Scotland’s future.
A Scotland that has its own strong parliament running schools, hospitals and other vital services with more powers to decide taxes on the way, while keeping the security of being part of a larger UK – the best of both worlds.
Or a Scotland committed to breaking its present links by leaving the UK for good for a more costly, complicated and uncertain future – a leap into the unknown.
Scotland is a wealthy country – achieved by 300 years of working in partnership within the UK. For me this is an argument for Scotland staying, not going. Together we coped with the global financial crisis. Now just as our economy is turning a corner, do we want to spend years focusing on the consequences of a divorce? I hope instead that we can confidently face the future together.
Together we can better manage volatile and falling income from the North Sea. And pensions and public services for people living longer are more affordable when we spread their costs across the whole UK.
The broad shoulders of the UK have proved their worth. The independent forecasts for oil revenues made in 2010 have since been revised down by more than £20 billion. At the same time, instead of cutting spending on health and education, the Scottish government has seen its budget increased by more than £2 billion – one of the many reasons why we’re better off together.
Those who want a separate Scotland must explain how it would work and what the price would be. The First Minister of Scotland and the Scottish government refuse to be open with people about its real risks and costs. In an interview yesterday, the Cabinet Secretary for finance, employment and sustainable growth for the Scottish government was asked 11 times to say what would be the cost of setting up a separate Scottish state. He couldn’t or wouldn’t say. Why would you buy anything from someone who refuses to tell you the price?
This week the UK government has published the most comprehensive analysis of the finances of an independent Scotland. This analysis is in line with what other independent experts are saying. And whereas nationalists’ calculations are rooted in the past, ours are focused on the future.
The conclusion is clear. As part of the UK, Scotland’s finances are much stronger. Scotland’s taxes are lower and public spending is higher. The Treasury calculates that every year this is worth £1400 for every person in Scotland.
That’s the UK dividend – 1,400 reasons why we’re better off together.