Leading economist backs independence



Andrew Hughes Hallett, Professor of economics at St Andrews University and George Mason University in Virginia, has backed independence and the ability of Scotland to improve its economic performance by using the “whole range of fiscal policies” independence would bring.

The support from such an internationally renowned expert on economics strengthens the SNP’s drive for more powers for the Scottish parliament and justifies the Government’s plans to hold an independence referendum.

A spokesman for SNP leader and First Minister Alex Salmond said: “This is a welcome endorsement of independence from a leading economist, who makes it clear that an independent Scotland would have the ability to use the whole range of tax levers to help boost our economy, creating wealth, jobs and opportunity for the whole nation.

“Scotland currently does not have these powers, which is why the immediate priority is getting economic teeth into the Scotland Bill currently going through Westminster, to give Holyrood responsibility for things like corporation tax and borrowing.

“But, as Andrew Hughes Hallett makes clear, only with independence will we be able to compete on a level playing field with other nations, by taking control of all the tax levers and making the most of our comparative advantage in sectors like electricity generation and our vast renewable energy sources.”

Addressing recent press reports of comments by John Kay, like Professor Hughes Hallett a member of the Council of Economic Advisers in the last Parliament, the spokesperson for the First Minister added:

“John Kay and the other members of the CEA were appointed on the basis of their willingness to offer advice regardless of their own political views. In Professor Kay’s case his expertise on alternatives to the wasteful PFI schemes was particularly important.

“The CEA was made up of a mix of economists, some of whom like John Kay believe in financial autonomy for Scotland, and others like Andrew Hughes Hallett who support independence – the one thing they all agree on is the need for Scotland to gain substantially more economic powers.

“The debate between them merely reflects a wider debate across Scottish society. And, as John Kay himself says, an independent Scotland is a perfectly viable economic prospect.”