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SNP European election candidate’s currency comments ‘perfectly sensible’

Nicola Sturgeon defended Alyn Smith but said the party has been ‘abundantly clear’ it will not be adopting the euro.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon campaigns alongside lead SNP European election candidate Alyn Smith MEP (centre) and Deirdrie Brock MP (left) in Leith, Edinburgh (Jane Barlow/PA)
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon campaigns alongside lead SNP European election candidate Alyn Smith MEP (centre) and Deirdrie Brock MP (left) in Leith, Edinburgh (Jane Barlow/PA)

Nicola Sturgeon has been forced to deny the SNP is planning to use the euro despite saying comments by a candidate that it could happen were “perfectly sensible”.

The SNP’s lead candidate in the European election, Alyn Smith, said he is “agnostic” about what currency an independent Scotland would use.

He said he had no preference about retaining the pound, introducing a new Scottish currency or adopting the euro.

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Nicola Sturgeon meeting with EU nationals in Edinburgh during the European election campaign (Tom Eden/PA)

When asked about the comments, Ms Sturgeon said: “The SNP has no policy of using the euro and we’ve made that abundantly clear.”

Speaking at a European election campaign event where she met EU nationals in Edinburgh, the First Minister said: “Alan’s comments on currency are perfectly sensible.

“The point at the heart of those comments is that Scotland – like every other country – would have the currency arrangements that are best for the economy of the country.”

At the SNP conference last month, delegates voted in favour of setting up a separate Scottish currency “as soon as practicable” in the event of independence, while Ms Sturgeon said the country would keep the pound until six tests were met and the Scottish Parliament approved a change.

She added: “When we become independent we keep the pound because that’s our currency as well as the currency of the rest of the UK and when the time is right we will move to an independent Scottish currency based on the tests that were set out.

“That’s a common sense, sensible position that has an independent Scotland putting our interest to the forefront instead of having these positions dictated to us and forced upon us regardless of what’s in our interests.”

Alyn Smith has previously supported the euro for Scotland so to say he is now agnostic is unacceptable. It is unacceptable that a leading SNP candidate is agnostic about the currency of your pension, your mortgage and your job. Tory MSP Adam Tomkins

In a debate on STV’s Scotland Tonight programme on Monday, Mr Smith said his party had “a lively debate” about currency options if Scotland were to become independent.

Mr Smith added: “We could keep sterling, we could keep sterling in a formal currency union, we could create an independent Scottish currency or we could join the euro and we can negotiate other options as well depending on what the circumstance is at the time.”

Adam Tomkins, Scottish Conservative shadow constitution secretary, said: “Alyn Smith has previously supported the euro for Scotland so to say he is now agnostic is unacceptable.

“It is unacceptable that a leading SNP candidate is agnostic about the currency of your pension, your mortgage and your job.

“The fact is that the SNP knows that Scots don’t want the euro.

“This is a dishonest fudge by Mr Smith but this won’t fool the voters.

“Alyn Smith and his SNP pals must come clean and admit that they would welcome the Euro in Scotland.”

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Nicola Sturgeon with EU nationals in Edinburgh during a European election campaign event (Tom Eden/PA)

Speaking after Monday’s debate, Scottish Labour candidate David Martin said: “The public will be alarmed to learn the SNP’s top candidate is open to dumping the pound for the euro.

“That will create a currency barrier between Scotland and the rest of the UK, costing jobs and putting pensions at risk.

“Unlike the SNP, Labour stands to unite our country and bring it back together.

“A vote for Labour on Thursday is a vote to end division and for a progressive Europe that works for the many, not the few.”

Ms Sturgeon hit out at their comments.

She said opposition politicians “want to put across the message that Scotland, uniquely among all the countries in the world, would be incapable of having a currency policy”.

PA

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