The SNP is poised to adopt a new policy for an independent Scotland to establish its own currency.
SNP depute leader Keith Brown revealed he and Finance Secretary Derek Mackay will put forward a motion to the party’s conference in Edinburgh next month that “it should now be party policy that an SNP government in an independent Scotland would establish an independent currency”.
While Scotland would continue to use the pound in a transition period after a vote to leave the UK, Mr Brown said the use of sterling would not be “an open-ended commitment”.
It marks a major shift on the SNP’s stance in the run-up to the 2014 independence referendum – when then-first minister Alex Salmond argued Scotland would continue to use the pound in a currency union with the rest of the UK.
This was strongly rejected by all of the UK parties, with uncertainty over currency arrangements regarded as being one of the reasons why Scots voted against leaving the UK.
Writing in The National newspaper, Mr Brown said he believed having plans for the county to move to its own currency would “maximise support for an independent Scotland”.
The SNP depute leader stated: “We will propose that it should now be party policy that an SNP government in an independent Scotland would establish an independent currency.”
He added until this “can be done safely and securely, our currency would continue to be the pound sterling”.
It comes after a major report on the economics of an independent Scotland last year concluded a separate Scottish currency could be set up if six tests are met.
After the 2014 referendum, Nicola Sturgeon established the Scottish Growth Commission to produce a fresh economic blueprint for a separate Scotland
Its report, published in May 2018, recommended Scotland should keep the pound during a transition period after any vote to leave the UK, before moving to its own currency.
Mr Brown added: “The process of moving to a new currency must be managed robustly and be guided by the best interests of the Scottish people and economy – in short, it must be done at the right time, in a way that affords necessary protection for our nation’s economy and for people’s personal finances.
“We propose that necessary preparations, including the work of building the institutions that we need, such as an independent central bank, would begin during the transition period.
“And the aim of an SNP government would be to complete preparations in time for the newly independent Scottish Parliament, informed by assessments and information from the central bank, to take a decision on establishing a new currency by the end of its first term. ”
Mr Brown concluded: “I believe this approach will maximise support for an independent Scotland.
“And it goes to the heart of the case for independence – providing a democratically elected independent Parliament with the means to take the best decisions for Scotland.”
Scottish Conservative finance spokesman Murdo Fraser said the plan to ditch the pound is “absurd”.
He said: “Only four years ago Sturgeon and Salmond told us it was ‘Scotland’s pound’ and we’d be keeping it.
“Now they want to dump it, with massive consequences for people’s pay packets, mortgages and livelihoods.”
Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard said: “The so-called Growth Commission outlines a further decade of austerity, with tax cuts and more power for big business, and fewer rights for workers. This is the exact opposite of what Scotland needs.”