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Scottish leader hits back over claims on pound, EU membership

English.news.cn   2014-02-18 05:44:37

LONDON, Feb. 17 (Xinhua) -- Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond on Monday hit back at claims that an independent Scotland must stop using the British pound and may find it extremely difficult to gain European Union (EU) membership.

Forcing an independent Scotland to abandon the British pound would potentially impose many hundreds of millions of pounds of transactions cost on businesses in the rest of Britain, Salmond said in a speech in Aberdeen of Scotland.

Last week, British Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne warned that if Scotland becomes an independent country, it must walk away from the British pound.

In response, Salmond said the Chancellor downplayed the disadvantages to the rest of Britain from a sterling zone, insisting that sharing the pound was the best option for both Scotland and the rest of Britain.

"(The Chancellor) ignored the fact that remaining as a single currency area provides transparency of pricing and no exchange rate risk strengthening the efficiency of the market to the benefit of consumers in both Scotland and the rest of the UK," Salmond said.

The Scottish first minister also said that what was presented by Osborne "was not an economic assessment but a campaign tactic," containing "inherent unfairness" and "a rather curious attack" on the Scottish government's fiscal rectitude.

In his speech, Salmond also dismissed European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso's prediction on Sunday that it would be "difficult, if not impossible" for an independent Scotland to gain EU membership.

Salmond rebuffed Barroso's argument by saying that failing to recognize the democratic will of Scotland would "pose a challenge to the integrity of the European Union even greater and more fundamental than the threat of British withdrawal."

"A European Union which has admitted so many countries from all points of the European compass will find a pragmatic way to accommodate the expression of democratic will from Scotland," Salmond quoted Graham Avery, Honorary Director General of the European Commission, as saying.

Analysts believe the latest rows over pound sharing and EU membership further clouded the prospects of the coming Scottish independence referendum.

British Prime Minister David Cameron and Salmond signed the Edinburgh Agreement in October 2012 to allow Scotland to hold an independence referendum in autumn 2014.

Editor: yan
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