Wilson calls for 'honest' transition

Independence campaign ‘must learn from Brexit errors’

Scottish independence march in Edinburgh

Independence will need to be ‘managed honestly’, says Andrew Wilson (Pic: Terry Murden)


A move toward an independent Scotland must take heed of the mistakes in managing change made in the Brexit negotiations, according to the author of the SNP’s blueprint for splitting with the UK.

Former SNP MSP Andrew Wilson said the transition could best be achieved by being “managed honestly”, taking account of concerns around dismantling 300 years of integration.

Mr Wilson, who produced the Growth Commission report for the nationalists, defended his work from critics who said it was too cautious and would damage the case for independence.

Interviewed on a radio station, he said polling suggests people are more likely than before to believe that independence would benefit the economy in the long-term. But they remain to be convinced about how orderly the transition will be, especially given the confusion over Brexit.

“The level of integration we’ve got with the rest of the UK over 300 years in financial services, in wages and pensions and mortgages is pretty unique, so we have to tend and steward the transition towards the country we want to become, said Mr Wilson, pictured.

“We want to be fast growing, we want our trade to diversify from over-dependence on one of the slowest growing economies in the developed world.

“But transitions need to be managed and they need to be managed honestly so that people can say as we’re going through it we knew this was what was going to happen.

“One of the big lessons from Brexit is effectively how not to do change, how not to manage transitions.”

Mr Wilson’s report called for an independent Scotland to continue to use the pound and only move to a new Scottish currency if a number of economic tests are met.

He said the Growth Commission offered a “more balanced view of the future, which says independence will take significant effort but that effort will be worth it.”

An independent Scotland would need to “fund public services sustainably” and convince lenders that “we are a good counterparty that will pay them back”, he said.

“We need to win by persuading people that are currently not convinced by the case, and all of the polling evidence is suggesting they are persuaded by a message that says the case for Britain is collapsing and the case for Scotland is developing.

“We have an argument that independence will be an effort. Money doesn’t drop out a tree, Rome isn’t built in a day, nothing falls in your lap. That’s not real life. You don’t win the lottery.

“What happens is you get a tool box and the ability to work, and that work will be worth it. It’s going to be an effort, it’s going to be a challenge, but all of the evidence of history in the small best performing countries in the world is that that challenge is worth it.”

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie said: “Andrew Wilson is an intelligent person and rightly acknowledges that the Scottish and UK economies are tightly bound together.

“With the chaos of Brexit, the last thing we need is more constitutional and economic upheaval with independence. What the Scottish public want is a government that is focused on improving public services.”

Pamela Nash, chief executive of Scotland in Union, said: “Andrew Wilson is right to point out Scotland’s level of integration within the UK when it comes to wages, pensions and mortgages.

“So it begs the question: why put the economy and people’s livelihoods at risk by scrapping our pound? The SNP has never been able to answer the currency question because there is no better solution than remaining in the UK and keeping our pound.

“Rather than dreaming up new ways to make people poorer, the SNP should focus on fixing our schools, hospitals and trains, and take the threat of a divisive and unwanted second independence referendum off the table.”

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