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50 European politicians back Scotland in EU

Stephen Gethins
Stephen Gethins: significant intervention

A cross-party group of fifty senior European politicians have boosted the Scottish independence campaign today after pledging their “full support” for Scotland’s membership of the EU.

They have pledged to make the process “swift, smooth and orderly as possible”.

In a letter to the Scottish Parliament’s presiding officer Ken MacIntosh, the MEPs and parliamentarians from Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Belgium, Sweden, Greece and Malta, say “Scotland would be most welcome as a full member of the European Union” if Scotland votes for independence.

The European politicians criticise the UK government for pursuing a hard Brexit, and for refusing to “properly take into account the preferences of Scottish citizens in the withdrawal process”, recognising that “Scotland voted strongly to remain in the EU” and that now “the question of Scotland’s constitutional future, and your relationships with the UK and EU, are for the people of Scotland to decide.”

Stephen Gethins, SNP Europe spokesperson at Westminster, said: “This is yet another significant intervention which underlines the depth of good will towards Scotland across Europe.  

 “As this letter shows, there is a lot of sympathy among our European friends and neighbours for Scotland’s position.

“In a week in which the idea of Spain vetoing an independent Scotland’s EU membership was finally put to bed, and the man who wrote Article 50 said that Scotland would see “a very swift accession negotiation”, it’s clear that the claims made by the No campaign in 2014 are being steadily demolished.

“Politicians across Europe want to engage constructively with Scotland – and if we choose to be independent, they will respect the will of the Scottish people.”

> A new report into the economic impact of the 2014 independence referendum by the Fraser of Allander Institute has concluded that the poll “does not appear to have been a major driver of volatility” in the Scottish economy.

The report by the University of Strathclyde’s think tank points to a number of other causes, including global events around the time, such as the Eurozone debt crisis, as having a more significant impact on the economy.

The result of the 2010 General Election and the Brexit vote were also seen to have caused more economic volatility than the 2014 vote. 

Commenting, SNP MSP Ivan McKee, who sits on Holyrood’s Finance and Constitution Committee, said: “This report from the respected Fraser of Allander Institute demolishes one of the central myths around the 2014 independence referendum. It has come to a definitive conclusion in rubbishing the claims that the referendum had a damaging impact on Scotland’s economy – suggesting instead that any volatility was relatively minor compared to other global forces from that time.

“The 2011 Eurozone debt crisis, for example, had a much bigger impact on economic volatility in Scotland, as did the result of the 2010 General Election.

“Claims from the opposition parties that the referendum was causing a drag on Scotland’s economy have been proven to be categorically untrue by this report – yet another example of scaremongering that has been proven false.

“The report could not be clearer in saying that the referendum ‘does not appear to have been a major driver of volatility’ in the Scottish economy, and that those seeking to point the finger should maybe look at wider global forces before blaming the 2014 referendum.”

Port of Grangemouth
Port of Grangemouth

> A revival in the UK’s overseas markets will support the economy’s readjustment away from consumer spending towards trade and help smooth the impact of Brexit on GDP, according to the EY ITEM Club spring forecast.

The EY ITEM Club says that while consumer spending provided all of the UK’s growth last year while overseas trade subtracted 0.4% from GDP, the balance of economic activity in 2017 will be different.

The falling pound since last year’s referendum is contributing to rising inflation, which is expected to reach 3% this summer.

Resulting pressure on households’ incomes means that growth in consumer spending is due to slow, but the pound’s drop, along with increasing evidence of momentum in the UK’s major international trading partners, is expected to spur growth in exports of 6.7% in 2017 and 5.3% in 2018. Overall, net trade is forecast to add 0.2% to GDP this year and another 0.6% in 2018.

As a result of support from a stronger global economy, the EY ITEM Club says that GDP growth will reach 1.8% this year (up from 1.3% in its previous forecast), 1.2% in 2018 (from 1%) and 1.5% in 2019 (from 1.4%). The EY ITEM Club says that the MPC is likely to hold Bank Rate at its current 0.25% until the autumn of 2018.



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