First Minister Nicola Sturgeon on Tuesday set out the “fresh case” for Scotland to become an independent country as she declared “It’s time” and published new analysis showing “the prize of independence is a wealthier, fairer Scotland.”
The Scottish Government analysis – called Independence in the Modern World. Wealthier, Happier, Fairer: Why Not Scotland? – claims “neighbouring countries such as Sweden, Ireland, Denmark and Finland use their powers of independence to achieve economic success, business dynamism and fairer societies.”
Sturgeon said work was underway on how to proceed with a new independence referendum, given that the UK government contests that the Scottish parliament has the power to grant such a vote.
“I do plan to give a significant update to parliament very soon indeed,” she said.
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “The decision was taken by the Scottish people only a few years ago …
“I think we should respect that, and we should also focus on what I think the whole of the UK – Scotland, England, everybody – wants us to look at, which is the economic position we’re in.”
Sturgeon claimed the evidence shows that:
- the comparator countries are all wealthier than the UK
- income inequality is lower in all the comparator countries
- poverty rates are lower in all the comparator countries
- there are fewer children living in poverty in all the comparator countries
- the comparator countries all have higher productivity than the UK
- business investment tends to be higher in all the comparator countries
Sturgeon unveiled the first in a series of papers called Building a New Scotland that will “together form a prospectus for an independent Scotland to enable people to make an informed choice about Scotland’s future before any referendum takes place.”
Sturgeon said: “Today, Scotland – like countries across the world – faces significant challenges. But we also have huge advantages and immense potential.
“The refreshed case for independence is about how we equip ourselves to navigate the challenges and fulfil that potential, now and in future.
“In their day to day lives, people across Scotland are suffering the impacts of the soaring cost of living, low growth and increasing inequality, constrained public finances and the many implications of a Brexit we did not vote for.
“These problems have all been made worse or, most obviously in the case of Brexit, directly caused by the fact we are not independent.
“So at this critical juncture we face a fundamental question. Do we stay tied to a UK economic model that consigns us to relatively poor economic and social outcomes which are likely to get worse, not better, outside the EU?
“Or do we lift our eyes, with hope and optimism, and take inspiration from comparable countries across Europe?
“Comparable neighbouring countries with different characteristics. Countries that, in many cases, lack the abundance of resources that Scotland is blessed with. But all of them independent and, as we show today, wealthier and fairer than the UK.
“Today’s paper – and those that will follow in the weeks and months ahead – is about substance. That is what really matters.
“The strength of the substantive case will determine the decision people reach when the choice is offered – as it will be – and it is time now to set out and debate that case.
“After everything that has happened it is time to set out a different and better vision. It is time to talk about making Scotland wealthier and fairer. It is time to talk about independence – and then to make the choice.”
Scottish Government Minister and Scottish Green Party Co-Leader Patrick Harvie said: “This paper sets out a detailed, evidence-based assessment of how the UK performs in comparison to a group of European countries.
“It shows how we are being held back environmentally, socially and economically by a UK Government that does not have the interests of the people of Scotland in mind.
“And it shows that with the powers of independence we could make different decisions than those made by the UK government, and build a more prosperous, equal and greener Scotland.
“As we seek to deliver the transition to a net-zero economy and address a cost of living crisis that is being turbo-charged by Brexit, there could not be a more important time to give the people of Scotland a choice over our future.
“The Building a New Scotland papers will help ensure that choice is an informed one, and I hope that everyone will join us in a positive and constructive national debate about Scotland’s future.”