By Martin Kelly
The leader of the anti-independence Better Together campaign has been forced to concede that Westminster could not block an independent Scotland from using the pound.
Interviewed on the BBC, Labour MP Alistair Darling admitted that Scotland could use the pound if a yes vote triumphed next September.
Asked if Scotland could use the pound, the Labour MP said: “Absolutely right, you can use somebody elses currency”, but Mr Darling warned that without a currency agreement with the remainder of the UK then nobody would trade with Scottish banks as there would be no lender of last resort.
However in a later interview on Reporting Scotland, Mr Darling acknowledged that a currency union had not been ruled out by Westminster. The Labour MP conceded that the decision would be left open until a Yes vote, and two independent government’s would then sit down to negotiate. Mr Darling said that at that point it would be “up to them”.
The failure of the Better Together head to completely rule out a currency union comes despite claims from several high profile Better Together colleagues that a monetary union was not possible.
Scottish Secretary Alistair Carmichael, speaking on the BBC at the weekend said: “Public international law is very clear on this, that if you remove yourself from the United Kingdom then you would remove yourself from all sorts of institutions and, yes, the pound would be one of them.”
He added: “The fact is that a currency union wouldn’t work. It wouldn’t work for Scotland, it wouldn’t work for the rest of the United Kingdom.”
Mr Carmichael’s claim that a currency union would not be in the interests of the rest of the UK contradicts comments from Alistair Darling who in January said such a monetary agreement would indeed be in the interests of the remander of the UK.
Asked by BBC host Gordon Brewer whether a monetary union with Scotland would be in the interests of the rest of the UK, Darling replied: “Of course! If you have independence, or separation, of course a currency union is logical.”
The apparent weakening of the No campaign stance on currency follows increasing pressure on Unionists to produce their own equivalent of the Scottish Government’s White Paper.
Unionist parties have yet to offer their own prospective for what Scots can expect in the event of a Yes vote. This week concerns grew that a No vote could mean the end of the Barnett Formula which would mean significant cuts to the Scottish block grant.