By Anne-Marie O’Donnell
Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander has confirmed there will be no border patrols in an independent Scotland in a direct contradiction to recent claims made by Home Secretary Theresa May.
The latest development adds to a series of blunders in the No campaign which have led to a string of contradictions between senior figures on key issues.
Despite Ms May telling the Scottish Conservative party conference in March that a Yes vote for Scottish independence would lead to a “literal and figurative border”, Mr Alexander said in a speech to the Road Haulage Association on Thursday: “Now, you probably wouldn’t have to drive through international check points every time you entered an independent Scotland.”
The slip follows a series of similar incidents from figures in the No campaign who have directly contradicted the self-styled ‘Project Fear’ party line.
On the high-profile currency union debate, an anonymous Westminster government minister told the Guardian in March that despite Chancellor George Osborne’s claims on the matter ahead of the referendum there would “of course” be a currency union following a Yes vote for independence.
On pensions, the No campaign was again left embarrassed after the Department for Work and Pensions confirmed that state pensions would be continue to be paid following a Yes vote, rendering a leaflet campaign claiming pensions were under threat in an independent Scotland redundant.
Commenting on the development, SNP MSP Kenneth Gibson said: “Confirmation from a UK government minister that there will be no border checkpoints between Scotland and England totally contradicts anti-independence scaremongering on this issue.
“Everyone who has travelled between Ireland and Northern Ireland in recent years knows how easy it is. The same is true for dozens of neighbouring independent countries across the European Union.”
In other similar incidents, the Better Together campaign was branded “a bit silly” last year by senior Conservative MSP Jackson Carlaw after UK government minister Jo Swinson told the public that Scottish independence would lead to mobile phone roaming charges in the rest of the UK when only days before the EU began the abolition of roaming charges throughout Europe.
In November last year, Scottish Conservatives leader Ruth Davidson left voters bewildered when she claimed that the SNP “simply cannot guarantee” that the public could still watch Doctor Who in an independent Scotland.
“In the past weeks and months we have seen the scare stories of the anti-independence parties crumble to dust one by one – their bluff and bluster on currency was called out earlier this year when a UK government minister admitted ‘of course there would be a currency union’, while other scares on everything from mobile phone charges, attacks from outer space to Lord Robertson’s ‘cataclysmic’ claims that ‘forces of darkness’ would be boosted in the event of a Yes vote have been laughable,” Mr Gibson added.
The mounting gaffes from Better Together have left its credibility on its key campaign issues further at risk, and Better Together leader Alistair Darling has been criticised for his leadership of the anti-independence campaign after consistently contradicting himself.
Despite previously claiming a currency union between Scotland and the rest of the UK would be “logical”, the former Labour Chancellor changed his mind a year later to pull into line the with Tory Chancellor George Osborne’s opposing position.
Mr Darling performed a similar u-turn on claims he made in 2010 that the Office for Budgetary Responsibility (OBR) was a “part of the Conservative party” when he began using OBR forecasts to rubbish the SNP’s spending plans for an independent Scotland.
However, despite Mr Darling falling into line with the Tory anti-independence policies, he was in December dismissed as “useless” and “comatose” by senior Conservatives.