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Scotland will stick with the pound until ‘concerns are not there’, says Sturgeon

The First Minister has tried to ease fears about plans for a new currency, stressing six tests would need to be met before it was adopted.

Delegates voted in favour of a new currency at the SNP conference (Andrew Milligan/PA)
Delegates voted in favour of a new currency at the SNP conference (Andrew Milligan/PA)

Nicola Sturgeon has attempted to play down fears about Scotland getting a new currency but risked the wrath of supporters who want the pound to be quickly ditched after an independence vote.

The First Minister claimed an independent Scotland would use the pound until “concerns are not there” about a change of currency.

Speaking in Edinburgh, Ms Sturgeon stressed six tests would have to be met and the decision to adopt a new currency would need to be judged to be “in the interests of the economy.”

We will use the pound until such time as those concerns are not there about a transition Nicola Sturgeon

At the SNP conference, delegates voted in favour of setting up a separate Scottish currency “as soon as practicable” if Scotland becomes independent, rather than within the first five years.

Ms Sturgeon said: “We will use the pound until such time as those concerns are not there about a transition.

“If we were not having a process guided by test and robust governance then that would be one thing but that is not the case.

“As soon as practicable is not just when the practical arrangements – the central bank, the infrastructure – is set up but when the judgments are that it is in the interests of the economy.”

Under SNP plans, Scotland would continue to use the pound until six tests were met and the Parliament approved a change.

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First Minister Nicola Sturgeon waves to delegates after speaking during the SNP spring conference at the EICC in Edinburgh (Andrew Milligan/PA)

Ms Sturgeon faced questions following comments by economist Richard Marsh that people’s pensions, savings and mortgages would be damaged by the plan.

The six tests, as set out by the SNP’s growth commission which Mr Marsh helped write, are to have “a sufficiently strong and credible fiscal position” in relation to budget deficit and overall debt; currency reserves; proof that Scotland’s economic cycle is “significantly out of phase” with that of the UK; a central bank;  fitting trade and investment patterns better than the pound, and meeting the needs of Scottish residents and businesses.

Defending the plans, Ms Sturgeon said: “What an independent Scotland would do is ensure we had the currency that best suited the needs of the economy.

“The proposals from the SNP at the weekend is that we would continue to use the pound until such time – governed by tests that were set out – that clearly it was in the interests of the economy to move to different arrangements and I think people should take a lot of confidence from that.”

Asked about Scotland adopting the euro, Ms Sturgeon added: “I am not personally in favour of joining the euro.

“I can’t see into the future but that is not a position I think we will see in the foreseeable future.”

PA

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