UK government dodges question on cost to Scottish economy from IndyRef2

Ian Silvera

The UK government failed to answer whether it had conducted an analysis of how much economic harm a potential second Scottish independence referendum would inflict on the nation.

Labour's sole Scottish MP Ian Murray quizzed Chancellor Philip Hammond on the issue in the House of Commons.

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"What assessment [has] the government has made of the potential effect on Scotland's economy of referendum on Scottish independence," the Edinburgh South MP asked.

But Chief Secretary to the Treasury David Gauke only went as far to claim that another ballot on Scotland splitting the from the rest of the UK would cause "huge economic uncertainty".

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"Scotland voted decisively to remain part of our United Kingdom in a referendum which the Scottish Government defined as a 'once in a generation' vote," he said on Tuesday (14 March).

"The evidence clearly shows that a majority of people in Scotland do not want a second independence referendum. Another referendum would be divisive and cause huge economic uncertainty at the worst possible time."

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The exchange come just days after First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon announced her plans to seek Holyrood's permission for a second Scottish independence referendum in the wake of the 2016 Brexit vote.

Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon

The SNP leader wants to hold the vote between autumn 2018 and spring 2019. Hugh Aitken, the Scotland director for the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), urged the Scottish and UK governments to continue to work together.

"Scottish businesses have acted with resilience since the EU Referendum, and, in an already uncertain environment, their priority is clarity as soon as possible on what a future deal could look like," he said.

"What's important is that the needs of Scotland – and the other devolved nations – are heard and understood in the discussions on the UK's future relationship with Europe. That's where the CBI's focus will be.

"The Scottish and UK governments must continue to work together, with business, to ensure the best deal from the negotiations for Scottish firms, and this work should continue as a matter of priority."

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