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Can Scotland afford to go it alone?

Tuesday, November 26, 2013 - 01:48

Nov 26 - With a referendum on Scottish independence 10 months away the Scottish government has unveilled the potential economic gains of going it alone. But as Ivor Bennett reports if it ends the 306-year union with England it will also inherit 100 billion pounds of UK debt.

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He's been accused of dodging the difficult questions on Scottish independence. But First Minister Alex Salmond now claims to have the answers. (SOUNDBITE) (English) SCOTLAND'S FIRST MINISTER ALEX SALMOND, SAYING: "This White Paper is the most detailed blueprint that any people have ever been offered anywhere in the world as a basis for becoming an independent country. It puts beyond doubt that an independent Scotland would start from a position of strength." At 670 pages, the blueprint for independence is longer than the last Harry Potter book. Salmond's hope is it'll cast a spell over the skeptics, by finally tackling the three main issues - currency, monarchy and EU membership. The plan is to keep all three. (SOUNDBITE) (English) SCOTLAND'S FIRST MINISTER ALEX SALMOND, SAYING: "The Bank of England and sterling is part of the assets, they are as much Scotland's assets as London's assets, they are certainly not George Osborne's assets." Britain's North Sea oil is another asset Scotland's staking a claim to. The resources would supposedly provide the platform for economic growth. But along with the assets come liabilities. If it leaves the UK, Scotland would take with it a chunk of Britain's national debt - to the tune of 100 billion pounds. A reason that, many analysts say, makes independence unrealistic. Barclays' Will Hobbs. SOUNDBITE (English) WILL HOBBS, VICE PRESIDENT RESEARCH, BARCLAYS, SAYING: "It's difficult to see how, in the event of independence, which chunks of debt would go which way. And I suspect that the UK is better off as one country. And I think the overall trend in the world is towards less regional governments rather than more." With 10 months until the vote, many in Scotland are still undecided - the latest polls suggesting as much as 15 percent. But with as many as 47 percent currently against independence, and just 38 for it, there's a lot of ground to make up.

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Can Scotland afford to go it alone?

Tuesday, November 26, 2013 - 01:48