POLITICS

Gordon Brown Attacks Alex Salmond Over First Minister's Plan To Make Scotland 'Semi-Colonial'

22/04/2014 21:04 BST | Updated 23/04/2014 04:59 BST

Gordon Brown has lambasted Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond for suggesting an independent Scotland could keep the pound via a currency union, an outcome the former Labour leader said would leave Scotland in a "semi-colonial position” with no ability to influence interest rates.

Speaking on Tuesday to an audience at Glasgow University, the former prime minister advised his countrymen to vote no in the September referendum, while arguing that it makes "no sense" for Scotland to unhook its political coupling with Westminster.

Speaking as part of the Better Together campaign, Brown highlighted a umber of key issues that he argued would adversely affect an independent Scotland, such as the NHS, pension funding and employment.

"It makes no sense whatsoever to break our links with England,” Brown said, adding: "This debate is about two visions of Scotland's future, about what best meets the needs and aspirations of the Scottish people.

"I am putting forward one vision of Scotland's future which is different from the Nationalists' vision that envisages a Scottish Parliament that breaks all links with the United Kingdom."

On the issue of currency, Brown said: "Mr Salmond wants to opt out of the United Kingdom, but he wants to opt in to the United Kingdom currency," adding that the Scottish Government wanted to "opt in to the currency, but not opt in to representation at Westminster and at the Treasury and the government that is going to supervise the Bank of England making these decisions".

He added: "It's impossible, it's not sustainable. The Scottish argument against Mr Salmond's proposals is he wants to opt in to the currency but opt out of the decision making processes we should be part of when deciding interest rates, mortgage rates and all the things that are the responsibility of the Bank of England, the Treasury and the United Kingdom Government.

"If you want to be part of this UK currency then you should be part of the decision-making process in the currency, therefore you have got to be part of the UK Parliament." He insisted that meant the currency union being proposed was "not in Scotland's interests".

"It would put us in a semi-colonial position where decisions are made about Scotland without any Scottish input into the decision making process. We have to have a right to make decisions that affect mortgages, the levels of business investment, that affect employment, inflation, the standard of living. It is a completely wrong position."

However, speaking to HuffPost UK in March, Salmond was dismissive of Osborne’s stance on the currency union, calling it "campaigning" rather than actual policy. "It’s bluff and bluster," he said. "The no campaign’s tactic is to create uncertainty then blame the 'yes' campaign for not being able to dispel the uncertainly they have created."

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With Holyrood already due to get more powers and Labour and other parties proposing further devolution in the event of a No vote, Brown set out a vision of a Scottish Parliament with increased powers as part of the United Kingdom.

"We are already a nation, we do not need a referendum to tell people that," he said "The question that's got to be resolved is whether you want to break all political links with the rest of Britain, that's what it comes down to."

Brown added: "I can see the virtue of an argument which says 'we're the Scottish National Party, London is to blame' but do you build the future of Scotland around saying 'we must abandon all political links with the rest of the United Kingdom', that is what the referendum question is.

"We are a nation, we have our national institutions, we have the Scottish Parliament, we're going to get more powers for the Scottish Parliament, the constitutional settlement will make possible better control over Scottish affairs, including tax raising powers for the Scottish Parliament. It makes no sense whatsoever to break our links with England."

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