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Separation at a cost

The referendum on whether Scotland should be an independent country will take place on September 18, 2014

The referendum on whether Scotland should be an independent country will take place on September 18, 2014 Photo: Getty Images

Alex Salmond has based his campaign to break up the Union on the idea that the
creation of an independent Scotland will be as cost-free and friction-free
as possible. But as the referendum approaches, that idea grows less tenable
by the day.

This week, for example, the Treasury will put an approximate figure on the
cost of constructing a bespoke Scottish version of government functions that
are currently shared, such as tax collection, benefits and so on. This is
estimated at 1 per cent of GDP, or approximately £1.5 billion – a high price
to pay to hire a host of tartan-clad bureaucrats in mimicry of London. Stir
in the expense of the SNP’s many campaign promises, of maintaining
Scotland’s pension system, of paying the interest on its debts, and of
filling the gaps in military capacity left by the dismemberment of the Armed
Forces, and it is crystal clear that taxpayers in an independent Scotland
would be forced to reach deep into their pockets.

It may be asking too much to expect the First Minister to come clean about
these costs – for a cornerstone of the Nationalist campaign has been to
deny, or even suppress, any facts that do not suit its narrative. Some of
Scotland’s most eminent scientists recently issued a statement pointing out
that there would be far less funding for research after independence – and
lamenting that universities and academic bodies cannot speak out because the
SNP controls their purse strings. This newspaper similarly revealed that a
key report on Scotland’s potential relationship with the European Union,
drawn up by an independent official, was distorted beyond recognition by Mr
Salmond’s MSPs, who excised a host of criticisms and concerns. Unfortunately
for the separatists, the truth has a way of being heard – no matter how
inconvenient it may be.

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(via Telegraph)