An influential economic adviser to Scotland’s first minister Nicola Sturgeon has warned the damage inflicted on the country by independence could be “Brexit times ten”.
Mark Blyth, professor of international economics at the Watson Institute of Brown University in Rhode Island, and a member of Sturgeon’s council of economic advisers, said in an interview with the Foreign Press Association: “[The Union] has been together for over 300 years. So, if pulling apart 30 years of economic integration with Europe is going to hurt, 300 is going to hurt a lot.”
Blyth said Brexit had strengthened the prospects of a second referendum on Scottish independence. Scotland voted to remain in the European Union.
“If your argument is that we need to do this because of Brexit, then Scotland separated from England is the biggest Brexit in history,” he said.
“The last time Scotland was fully economically independent, the word capitalism hadn’t been uttered.”
Statistics provided in the Government Expenditure and Revenue Scotland report last month show Scotland’s deficit swelled to 22.4 per cent of its economy, more than eight percentage points higher than the same ratio for the UK as a whole.
The widening deficit was driven by tax revenues plunging as a result of the country imposing restrictions on economic activity to curb the spread of Covid.
Blyth outlined two independence scenarios in the interview.
“Either you have brass-plate independence — you declare independence, you get a vote, but nothing really changes, you put up some brass plates in Edinburgh, and nothing really changes, you keep the pound and all that stuff.”
“Or you go for regulatory divergence — different currency, different economic policy, etc, which will entail significant short to medium-term costs. There’s no way around that. We know that because it’s Brexit times ten,” he said.
A spokesperson for Sturgeon said: “Scotland has been torn out of the EU against our democratic will, causing massive harm to our economy and society. Brexit is inflicting huge labour shortages, leading to empty shelves in shops.”
“Independence will give us the chance to rejoin a market around seven times bigger than the UK.”