By Martin Kelly
The SNP has today branded the anti-independence campaign as “embarrassing” after the party claimed Shadow Scottish Secretary Margaret Curran was preparing to attack independence using out of date data.
Labour MP Curran is expected to claim ‘evidence’ on US-Canadian trade that predates the establishment of the North American Free Trade Agreement, as being relevant to the referendum debate in Scotland.
Margaret Curran is expected to publish a paper on ‘the border effect’ of international trade, using data dating back to 1993 – a year before the North American Free Trade Area was even set up, and before a previous bilateral agreement had come into full effect.
The Labour MP will try to suggest that a Yes vote in September will lead to a border which will harm trade in an independent Scotland.
Curran’s paper will state: “Evidence from trade flows between other countries, including the US/Canada and the UK/Ireland, shows clear evidence of the ‘border effect’. Independent research estimates that the US-Canada border reduces trade between the two countries by 44%.”
However the SNP has pointed out that as part of the EU, an independent Scotland will be entitled to trade freely across the whole European Economic Area – making the data cited completely irrelevant.
The scale of the trade between the USA and Canada was made clear by the Office of the United States Trade Representative, which said: ‘Canada is currently our largest goods trading partner with $632 billion in total (two ways) goods trade during 2013.’
According to the nationalists, the only thing threatening Scotland’s cross border trade is the in/out EU referendum proposed by Westminster parties.
The SNP has described the latest anti-independence attack as just the ‘latest distortion’ from the No campaign. Curran’s paper comes the day after Unionist politicians were accused of misrepresenting comments from Jean-Claude Juncker.
Commenting, SNP MSP Kenneth Gibson said:
“This is laughable stuff from Margaret Curran, who is truly scraping the bottom of the barrel with these silly claims.
“The data she is relying on is so out of date it isn’t even relevant to the US and Canada anymore, let alone the debate on Scotland’s future.
“Margaret Curran should have the good grace to pulp this paper before it ever sees the light of day.
“Coming hot on the heels of the No campaign’s complete distortion of Jean-Claude Juncker’s comments this week, it seems Project Fear has gone into overdrive with its scare stories.”
Prime Minister David Cameron and former Lib Dem leader Charles Kennedy yesterday claimed remarks from the new EC President suggested a newly independent Scotland would find itself in the EU wilderness for at least five years.
However officials in Mr Juncker’s office later made it clear that Mr Juncker’s remarks, when he called for expansion to be suspended for five years, was not a reference to Scotland.
Mr Gibson added: “The No campaign is only embarrassing itself with its desperation to try and twist every statement and statistic to talk Scotland down.
“The fact of the matter is that the only threat to Scotland’s trade comes from Westminster’s determination to push ahead with a referendum on quitting Europe.
“A Yes vote in September will protect our place in Europe and enable us to provide better support to Scotland’s exporters, creating more jobs across the country, and boosting our whole economy.”