Andrew Neil exposes independence secret Sturgeon doesn't want to admit

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The former BBC and GB News host slammed the Scottish nationalists for “fearing” how they would pay for the same public services footed by the UK taxpayer in the event of independence. This furious row was seen as a key argument for securing the No vote during the 2014 referendum.

And unlike then, Scotland cannot now rely on generous North Sea oil reserves which Alex Salmond claimed at the time would more than compensate for handouts from Westminster.

Writing in the Daily Mail, the Scottish broadcaster said that this economic argument was why the SNP secretly didn’t want a second independence referendum soon.

He wrote: “That is one of the reasons why I now think, in the unlikely event of a second independence vote, that the SNP would lose again.

“Some SNP politicians also fear that, which is why they are less enthusiastic than you might think about having another referendum any time soon.

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“With North Sea oil and gas in steep decline and the SNP now hitched to the anti-fossil-fuel greens — so now against any further drilling — the economics of independence are more precarious than ever.”

He went on to point out an ongoing argument surrounding who would pay Scottish state pensions in the event of independence was damaging the economic case for leaving the union.

In December, the SNP’s Westminster leader Ian Blackford caused an uproar when he said that the UK Government would continue to foot the bill after independence.

UK Pension Minister Guy Opperman later rubbished his claims saying “it’s not going to happen under any circumstances whatsoever”.

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Commenting on this, Mr Neil said: “The recent SNP spat over pensions was revealing.

“The SNP fought the 2014 referendum expressing no doubts that in an independent Scotland, the Scottish Government would be responsible for Scottish pensions.

But in recent weeks, leading SNP figures started to claim that Westminster would need to pay Scottish pensions even after independence.

“The proposition was so ludicrous that the SNP was soon in full retreat back to its 2014 position.

“But the idea was floated because without oil revenues, there is a multi-billion pound hole in Scotland’s finances, made worse, of course, by the pandemic.

“If Westminster continued to fork out for pensions that massive Scottish deficit would look a little bit more manageable.

“No Westminster government is ever going to agree to that. But it is a significant sign that the economic case for independence has never been weaker and the SNP is devoid of ideas on how to strengthen it.

“So the United Kingdom is likely to last much longer than its critics think.”



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