Scottish Daily Mail

We’d have too much debt, says Leonard

- By Michael Black­ley UK News · Politics · Infectious Diseases · Health Conditions · Scottish National Party · Scottish Labour Party · Arbeidersparty · Richard Leonard · United Kingdom · Scotland · Nicola Sturgeon · Scottish Parliament · Conservative Party (UK) · Ian Blackford · Andrew Wilson

THE SNP’s eco­nomic case for in­de­pen­dence is out of date be­cause of the im­pact of the coro­n­avirus pandemic, ac­cord­ing to Scot­tish Labour’s leader.

Richard Leonard yes­ter­day said the debts racked up tack­ling Covid across the UK will have fur­ther weak­ened the eco­nomic blue­print for in­de­pen­dence.

In an in­ter­view with the Mail, he also in­sisted that there should not be a ref­er­en­dum in the next five-year term of the Scot­tish par­lia­ment.

The SNP’s Growth Com­mis­sion pre­vi­ously es­ti­mated that it would take up to ten years to bring the deficit of an in­de­pen­dent Scot­land down to sus­tain­able lev­els.

Mr Leonard, who ac­cused Ni­cola Stur­geon and Ian Black­ford of ‘sabre-rat­tling’ by talk­ing up the prospect of an in­de­pen­dence ref­er­en­dum as early as next year, said: ‘In the lead-up to the SNP con­fer­ence, it’s pretty clear the An­drew Wil­son Growth Com­mis­sion is now way out of date. It’s a pre-pandemic re­port which doesn’t take into ac­count the huge debt which has been built up.

‘This idea there is some virtue of set­ting up a sep­a­rate cur­rency and find­ing £100bil­lion to prop that up just doesn’t make any sense.’

Mr Leonard said that at next year’s Holy­rood elec­tion his party would try to ‘stop sup­port for the SNP reach­ing a level that would give it a man­date for a sec­ond ref­er­en­dum’.

But he ad­mit­ted he does not ex­pect to sell him­self to vot­ers as the next First Min­is­ter, and is in­stead tar­get­ing sec­ond place, ahead of the Tories.

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