SCOTLAND will continue to use the pound and seek to become a full member of the European Union if it becomes independent, Nicola Sturgeon has insisted.
The First Minister gave an answer to the currency question, which some of her colleagues have failed to do in recent days, leaving the SNP leadership open to the charge from opponents that its prospectus for independence has been unclear.
Opposition politicians continue to insist there remains a lack of clarity on key issues and that the Nationalist leader has simply added to a confused picture.
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Following the SNP’s conference in Aberdeen, Ms Sturgeon took to the airwaves and told Sky News’s Sophy Ridge on Sunday programme: “The starting point for consideration is that Scotland would use the pound.
"It's our currency, it's a fully tradeable international currency but, as I am sure you know, I have a Growth Commission right now looking at a plan for the economic future of Scotland but also looking in detail at currency options for Scotland."
When pressed that she was calling for a second independence poll without being sure precisely what future currency arrangements an independent Scotland would have, Ms Sturgeon said: “Look, that Commission has not concluded its work yet, I’ll be perfectly frank.
“A referendum at the earliest is going to be 18 months from now. I absolutely accept – well in advance of that – not just in currency but on the economic plan, on some of the questions you’re asking me on Europe, we will set out a very clear proposition, but it’s right, given the changed circumstances of Brexit, that we do very serious work before we come to putting that proposition forward. So that work hasn’t concluded yet.”
The FM added the Commission would conclude its work in the coming months when its findings would be open for public debate.
Last week, John Swinney, the Deputy First Minister, repeatedly failed to identify what currency an independent Scotland would have while SNP MP Joanna Cherry also appeared to struggle when she was asked to name the currency during BBC Question Time last Thursday night, saying: “Watch this space.”
Later in an interview with the Financial Times, Alex Salmond, suggested an independent Scotland might use the pound initially but later ditch it in favour of a new currency. He ruled out an independent Scotland joining the euro.
During the 2014 campaign, the Scottish Government wanted to enter into a currency union with the rest of the UK with the Bank of England as lender of last resort but this was ruled out by the then Chancellor George Osborne.
Simply using the pound would mean the government of an independent Scotland would not have any say over policy on the currency nor have the insurance of the central bank in London if an economic crisis occurred.
Ms Sturgeon’s statement on full EU membership appeared to be an attempt to dismiss suggestions the SNP leadership had ditched its long-held goal given an estimated third of SNP supporters voted to leave the EU.
Suggestions that the FM might be looking at a staging post to full membership with an independent Scotland initially seeking membership of the single market have been given credence by Mr Salmond, who suggested it would seek to join the Economic Free Trade Association and that by following this route Scotland would have “continuous” membership of the single market.
But Ruth Davidson claimed there was still confusion on the details of the Nationalists’ prospectus.
"We have asked basic questions on things like currency, on things like a central bank, on things like whether we would even rejoin Europe as a full member, and Nicola Sturgeon seems unable to commit to that,” said the Scottish Conservative leader.
Jackie Baillie, Scottish Labour’s economy spokeswoman, said: “The people of Scotland deserve some answers from Nicola Sturgeon. She is the person threatening a second independence referendum, yet she refuses to give voters the clarity they need.
“Last week, John Swinney refused six times in a radio interview to answer the basic question about currency, Joanna Cherry was left floundering when asked the question on TV, and Stewart Hosie has signalled that the SNP wants to ditch the pound.
“Yet now we have Nicola Sturgeon causing even more confusion. It’s quite clear that nobody in the party has a clue what would happen. Voters deserve better than that,” she added.