Scottish Secretary Michael Moore’s position has been branded “totally unsustainable” and he has been accused of “letting down Scotland” after he admitted the UK Government was making no contingency plans for the rest of the UK in the event of a Yes vote on independence.
Mr Moore also revealed that the UK government did not plan to approach the European Commission for a formal view on EU membership prior to the 2014 referendum.
The Lib Dem MP came under attack after facing a grilling from the House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee.
During the session, Mr Moore admitted that no contingency plans were in place regarding the Trident nuclear weapons system on the Clyde. He also claimed that recent opinion from Finance Secretary John Swinney, supported by Sir David Edward a former EU Judge, that Scotland would not be thrown out of the EU as “fundamentally wrong”, but insisted that the UK government would not seek clarification in order to end the uncertainty.
Baroness Kingsmill branded his responses “weak”, Lord Forsyth said the UK’s refusal to negotiate was “puzzling” and former Conservative Chancellor Lord Lawson said Mr Moore’s position was “totally unsustainable” after Moore admitted that the UK government was leaving key areas to chance in the run-up to the independence referendum.
Commenting on the Secretary of State’s performance, Annabelle Ewing who sits on the Referendum Bill Committee said:
“Scotland is capable of becoming independent and the UK Government is simply sticking its head in the sand.
“The Scottish Government is clear that officials could be discussing the steps to be taken in the event of a Yes vote now, so that the rest of the UK is as prepared as Scotland.
“Politicians will debate the issue all the way to referendum day, but the UK’s refusal to consider a Yes vote is incredibly arrogant.
“It is time the UK Government paid attention and put in the work they should be doing. Instead of spending their time spreading smears about Scottish independence and trotting the globe talking Scotland down, they should be ensuring that the UK is prepared to follow through on the Edinburgh agreement and implement a positive decision by the people of Scotland.”
The following criticisms of Michael Moore’s position were made at the House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee today:
Lord Forsyth: “I find it puzzling you say you’re not prepared to engage but saying you want the committee to be fully informed.”
Baroness Kingsmill: “I’m astonished by your remarks that there will be no discussion”
Baroness Kingsmill: “I find that a very weak answer”
Lord Lawson: “May I suggest Secretary of State that your position is totally unsustainable. You are letting down very badly the people of Scotland. You said Scotland is capable of being an independent nation, I agree with you; it’s a very fine country. Your failure is on the consequences of independence.”
The Secretary of State’s suggestion that an independent Scotland would be expelled from the EU and forced to re-apply is at odds with comments from his Scottish Lib Dem colleague Willie Rennie who last week said that no-one was making such a claim.
Unionist claims that an independent Scotland could be prevented from adopting the pound were later rubbished by Sir John Gieve. Appearing in front of the committee, the former Deputy Governor of the Bank of England confirmed that an independent Scotland would be able to retain sterling as its currency.
View Michael Moore’s appearance here:
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