Scottish Independence Debate Damaging Economy, Says Osborne

Osborne Claims Scottish Economy Damaged By Independence Debate

The prospect of an independence referendum is damaging the Scottish economy, George Osborne has claimed.

Speaking to the BBC's Politics Show, the Chancellor called for more detail from First Minister Alex Salmond about the plans, and said the uncertainty had caused major companies to be concerned about investing in the country.

Mr Osborne told the programme: "The instability and the uncertainty that hangs over the Scottish economy (is) because of (First Minister) Alex Salmond raising the prospects of independence without actually providing any detail of when he wants to have his referendum, or what the question will be.

"I think that uncertainty is damaging investment in Scotland - and there are major businesses around the world who have asked me as Chancellor in the last year: 'Tell us what is going on in Scotland - we're worried about making an investment in that country.'

"I have told them go ahead with the investment, but I have to say those questions are being asked, and I think it is having a direct impact on Scottish jobs and Scottish prosperity."

But the Scottish National Party accused the Chancellor of jeopardising investment with his plans for North Sea taxation.

A spokesman for Scotland's First Minister told the BBC: "This is another example of the Tories talking Scotland down, and is the height of hypocrisy from the chancellor of a government which is undermining Scotland's recovery and has caused massive uncertainty to our vital offshore oil and gas industry with a shock tax hike."

In his last budget, the Chancellor unveiled a £2 billion levy on the profits of North Sea oil and gas companies to fund a cut in fuel duty.

The First Minister's spokesman said Scotland's recession had been "shorter and shallower" than that experienced across the UK.

MSP Mark McDonald, who represents North East Scotland, added that Mr Osborne "clearly doesn't understand the industry's concerns about his tax raid and its negative impact".


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