Salmond says no nation has opposed potential Scottish EU membership

Monday 17 February 2014 22.24
Alex Salmond said: 'No member state has suggested they would seek to block Scottish membership'
Alex Salmond said: 'No member state has suggested they would seek to block Scottish membership'

Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond has said that no member state of the European Union has indicated that it would seek to block Scottish membership of the 28-member bloc.

The decision was one for member states, he said in a speech in Aberdeen, adding that not to recognise Scotland's democratic will would run counter to the spirit of the EU.

"No member state has suggested they would seek to block Scottish membership," he added.

Mr Salmond also said that ruling out a currency union with an independent Scotland would cost businesses south of the border "many hundreds of millions".

He criticised British Chancellor George Osborne after he last week ruled out doing a deal on currency if there is a Yes vote in September's independence referendum.

In a speech in Edinburgh last week, Mr Osborne declared: "If Scotland walks away from the UK, it walks away from the UK pound."

Mr Salmond said the Tory Chancellor had presented a "caricature" of research by economic experts which had backed a currency union.

The Fiscal Commission Working Group, set up by Mr Salmond, concluded last year that keeping sterling as the currency in an independent Scotland would be "sensible" and an attractive choice for the rest of the UK.

In his speech in Aberdeen today, Mr Salmond said the Chancellor had chosen "not to engage with the points made by the Fiscal Commission Working Group. He chose instead to present a caricature of the macroeconomic framework they presented".

He said Mr Osborne had "downplayed the disadvantages to the rest of the UK from a sterling zone", as he warned that rejecting a currency union could damage business in the rest of the UK.

"I am publishing today an estimate of the transactions cost he would potentially impose on businesses in the rest of the UK," Mr Salmond said.

"They run to many hundreds of millions of pounds.

"My submission is that this charge - let us call it the George Tax - would be impossible to sell to English business."