By Martin Kelly
Results from a newly published survey show that the overwhelming majority of people in England, Wales and Northern Ireland back sharing the pound with an independent Scotland and retaining a common travel area.
The survey, carried out on behalf of the SNP by Panelbase, reveals that just over seven out of ten are in favour of a sterling zone and three quarters are in favour of ensuring restriction free travel.
The poll was conducted from 13th to 20th December, among a representative sample of 1,011 people in the rest of the UK.
On currency, the survey asked:
Scotland and the rest of the United Kingdom are among each other’s largest trading partners. Putting aside your own views on whether or not Scotland should become an independent country, if independence does happen do you think that Scotland and the rest of the UK should continue using the pound in an agreed sterling area?
Forty six per cent said definitely Yes and twenty five per cent said they thought it was a good idea. Seven per cent said they didn’t think it was a good idea and only five per cent said definitely No. A total of sixteen per cent said they weren’t sure.
The poll breakdown also showed that 81 per cent of Labour voters in the rest of the UK back a sterling area, 66 per cent of Conservative voters, and 75 per cent of Lib Dem voters.
On the idea of a common travel area, the poll asked:
A Common Travel Area has existed since the 1920s which provides for freedom of movement throughout the area for citizens of the UK, Republic of Ireland, Channel Islands and Isle of Man. Putting aside your own views on whether or not Scotland should become an independent country, if independence does happen do you think that there should continue to be freedom of movement with no passport controls between England and Scotland?
Fifty five percent said they were definitely in favour with twenty per cent saying they though it a good idea. Eight per said they didn’t think it a good idea with four per cent saying definitely not. Twelve per cent said they weren’t sure.
The poll breakdown showed that 84 per cent of Labour voters back continuing the common travel area, 73 per cent of Conservative voters, and 81 per cent of Lib Dem voters.
Welcoming the figures, the Deputy First Minister and SNP Depute Leader Nicola Sturgeon said:
“These are extremely welcome findings, which demonstrate that by a factor of some six to one people in the rest of the UK back the common sense position of Scotland’s Government to share sterling and the common travel area after Scottish independence.
“As well as being out of touch with Scotland, it’s clear that Westminster is also out of touch with people in England on these matters, across supporters of all political parties – which underlines that what UK Ministers say before the referendum will be entirely different to what they do after a Yes vote.
“Sharing sterling and the common travel area is every bit as much in the interests of the rest of the UK as it is in the interests of an independent Scotland.
“A shared currency within a sterling area has been backed by the expert work of the Scottish Government Fiscal Commission, including its two Nobel laureates, by many leading business figures and academics, and by currency experts at Deutsche Bank and Citigroup.
“Sharing the pound has been described by No campaign leader Alistair Darling as ‘logical’ and ‘desirable’ – and it is clear from these poll figures that the overwhelming majority of people in the rest of the UK agree with that assessment.”
In January this year head of the No campaign Alistair Darling admitted that a currency Union between an independent Scotland and the rest of the UK would be in the interests of both parties, calling such an arrangement “desirable” and “logical”.
Leading Scottish business figures have already expressed their own backing for a currency union following independence. In a joint letter published by the Scotsman the eleven strong group, including Jim McColl, founder of Clyde Blowers, Sandy Adam, chairman of Springfield Properties and Martin McAdam, chief executive of Aquamarine Power wrote:
“It is in the interests of Scotland and the rest of the UK – the financial firms, wider business community and the people – to maintain the same currency. Many Scottish firms have the vast majority of their customers south of the Border, and Scotland is the second largest export market for English business. The strength of sterling in part relies on Scotland’s North Sea oil and gas reserves.”
Earlier this month, experts at Deutsche Bank AG and Citigroup Inc made supportive comments that the best currency option is for Scotland and the rest of the UK to retain the pound as part of a currency area.
Oliver Harvey, a strategist at Deutsche Bank, said: “Scotland fits an optimum currency area with the rest of the UK very well… It wouldn’t make any sense for Scotland not to have the pound.”
Valentin Marinov, the head of European Group-of-10 currency strategy at Citigroup added: “Given the close economic ties between the two and assuming that these ties need not weaken going forward, the potential introduction of a currency union need not affect significantly trade and other flows.”
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