Anti-indy parties look to Westminster Committee for help as Currency Union admission derails campaign


  By Martin Kelly
The Conservative, Labour and the Lib Dem parties have been accused of panicking after it emerged George Osborne, Ed Balls and Danny Alexander are set to appear in front of a Westminster Committee in order to answer questions on a currency union.
Yesterday it was announced that the three men would be called to appear in front of the Scottish Affairs Committee where they would be quizzed on proposals for a currency union between an independent Scotland and the rest of the UK.

However the move has been described as one of panic by the SNP as the nationalists kept up the pressure on their rivals who are struggling to stabilise a campaign beset with problems amid claims of negativity an over reliance on scare stories.

The latest blow to hit the Better Together alliance followed reports last weekend that an unnamed coalition minister had admitted that threats to block a currency agreement, made by all three parties, were in fact a bluff.  The Guardian newspaper reported that the mystery figure, said to be close to the No campaign, had admitted that everything would change following a Yes vote and a currency zone would be agreed.

Responding to the announcement that Osborne, Balls and Alexander are to appear in front of the all-Unionist committee to answer questions on a shared currency area, SNP Westminster Leader Angus Robertson MP said it was great news for yes and the anti-independence campaign were “digging themselves even further” into a hole.

He added: “The No campaign has hit the panic button by calling in the Scottish Affairs Committee, and it doesn’t matter what is said to the committee – that’s the whole point of the damage done by the UK Government Minister who said there will be a currency union.  As he or she admitted, what they say now is purely campaign talk to try to get a No vote, everything will change after a Yes vote and they will agree to share the pound.

“Thanks to the Minister who blurted out the truth, no-one believes the UK Government’s panicky campaign talk anymore.”

The Scottish Affairs Committee had its remit hastily altered following the landslide victory for the SNP in 2011, when a referendum on independence became a certainty.  Its investigation into Scottish independence caused immediate controversy when it was named ‘The referendum on separation for Scotland’.

The committee, which is made up entirely of MPs from pro-Union parties, has been criticised amid claims it is no more than a means of creating anti-independence headlines.  The appearances are certain to feature prominetly on the BBC and other pro-Union media outlets.

However at least one member believes a currency union between a newly independent Scotland and the rest of the UK is a possibility.

Earlier this year, Cambridgeshire MP Sir James Paice, who sits on the committee, said he did not think there should be a referendum on such a union as it was, in essence, “maintaining the status quo”.

He added: “The far bigger question is whether the UK Government would be interested in a currency union with an independent Scotland; my gut instinct is that they would be persuadable.”