Oh dear, Nicola! Sturgeon warned independent Scotland could face devastating £181BN bill

Sturgeon slammed by Cole-Hamilton on independence referendum

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Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has insisted a second referendum on independence can be put before the country’s 5.5million population before the end of 2023. The SNP have used this to push the case for Scottish independence, arguing Brexit has occurred “against the will” of the Scottish people. Scotland’s ruling party and Scottish Greens are drawing up a joint Government prospectus on independence that will be put to Scots in 2023 as part of a move to hold a new referendum in the same year.

But while the UK is set to pay the EU up to £40billion over a number of years as part of a Brexit divorce settlement, Scotland could be left footing a much higher bill from independence, a leading political expert has warned.

Alistair Jones, associate politics professor at De Montfort University in Leicester said one possibility is Scotland would be forced to take on some of the UK’s eye-watering national debt.

If the model seen through the split of Czechoslovakia is used, which was based around population size, this could amount to a huge £181billion.

He told Express.co.uk: “If there is a successful move to Scottish independence, it is most likely that Scotland will have to take on part of the UK’s burden of debt.

“What is not clear, is how much that would be, or how it could be done.

“One alternative is a proportion of the UK national debt could be transferred to Scotland upon gaining independence.

“An example is the splitting of Czechoslovakia, where the debt, liabilities and assets were split 2:1 between the Czech Republic and Slovakia, based around population size.

“If that model was followed, the split would be 11:1 between Scotland and the rest of the UK.

“If UK national debt is around £2trillion, the 11:1 ratio will see the Scots take on around £181 billion.”

Professor Jones also explained other possible financial scenarios based on a transfer of UK national debt that would still see Scotland hit with a massive bill following a successful independence referendum.

He said: “There could be an annual payment to help in the servicing of the UK national debt and for that to be in place for an extended number of years.

“This could be something like £10billion per year, but that will depend upon the agreed legacy sum that the Scots would owe, and the length of time of repayment.”

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The politics expert added: “There will also be assets to take into consideration (e.g. oil and gas) and these will have to be factored in, along with any other liabilities (total UK liabilities, pre-covid, were around £4.5 trillion).

“Yet there could be a decision to split the debt by proportion of GDP or proportion of Government spending.”

But he also urged caution over the matter and financial forecasts following possible Scottish independence.

Professor Jones concluded: “All of this, however, is conjecture.

“Neither side will want to explore this issue until an independence vote has been successful.

“Talk about such things, in advance, could undermine the Union arguments by merely acknowledging their possibility.

“Conversely, the size of the potential debt could scare lukewarm independence voters.

“There are no certain answers here.”

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