Scottish Conservative leader Annabelle Goldie is planning to tell delegates at the party conference in Manchester that Scotland is not subsidised by the rest of the UK.
Ms Goldie who is due to speak today will tell delegates that the ‘subsidy junkie’ claim is a myth and in fact the remainder of the UK would be worse off if Scotland were to gain independence.
The admission by Ms Goldie will cause surprise amongst many in the audience given that official figures show that Scotland receives more per head in government funding than the average English figure.
However that figure does not make clear exactly how much Scotland contributes, and other figures show that Scotland pays in more than she gets back. North Sea revenues alone will generate £13.4 billion for the UK Treasury this year.
Ms Goldie is also expected to warn party colleagues of the consequences for the rest of the UK if Scotland opts out of the Union. She will say: “If one bit of our United Kingdom house gets demolished, instability left sets in, the rest is at risk,”
The admission from the outgoing Tory leader signals a change in strategy from some Scottish Unionists who have consistently argued that Scotland could not afford independence. Days prior to May’s Scottish elections the Labour party claimed that independence would cost Scotland £14 billion every year, or £2600 for every Scot.
The news of Ms Goldie’s intended comments was welcomed by First Minister Alex Salmond who said “Tory attacks on Scotland’s finances are wrong, misplaced and misleading”. Mr Salmond also used the admission to warn that the Tory tax plans contained in the Scotland Bill were badly formed and would have a “negative impact”.
Mr Salmond revealed that he has written to David Cameron insisting that the Scottish Parliament should decide whether to accept the new tax powers or not. Last week Tory Minister David Gauke implied that the UK government would ignore Holyrood if it voted against the Bill.
SNP MSP for Edinburgh Pentlands Gordon MacDonald said:
“Annabelle Goldie’s comments have been a long time coming. The Tory’s have continually trotted out the usual disproved myths and scaremongering for decades, it should be welcomed that they have now finally accepted that Scotland can more than pay her own way financially. It’s just unfortunate that Annabelle has only managed to pluck up the courage as she prepares to stand down as leader.
“Hopefully this is a turning point for the Unionist camp, where they can actually engage in proper debate about our constitutional future, but I won’t hold my breath.
“The Tories along with Labour have stood in constant opposition to the people of Scotland having their say on the future of the nation, perpetrating incorrect information about our finances but the reality is that it is Scotland who his bankrolling the London treasury, not the other way about.”