Fears over independent Scotland have ‘little basis’

A leading economist has said there is "little basis" for "fear-mongering" over the economy of an independent Scotland.

Joseph Stiglitz countered the view of fellow Nobel prize-winning economist Paul Krugman, who recently warned that Scotland would face “huge risks” going it alone and told Scots to “be very afraid”.

Mr Stiglitz said that while there would be risks in the event of a Yes vote, the risks of Scotland remaining in the union and the UK leaving the EU would be “significantly greater”.

In an article in the Sunday Herald and the Scotsman, he urged Scots to focus on “vision and values” in the last few days before the vote.

He said: “There is, in fact, little basis for any of the forms of fear-mongering that have been advanced.

“Krugman, for instance, suggests there are significant economies of scale: a small economy is likely, he seems to suggest, not to do well.

“But an independent Scotland will still be part of Europe, and the great success of the EU is the creation of a large economic zone. By an order of magnitude, far more important than size is the pursuit of the right policies.”

Mr Stiglitz, who was chairman of US president Bill Clinton’s council of economic advisers, dismissed the debate over the currency of an independent Scotland as a “non-issue”, saying many currency arrangements would work, including Sterlingisation — or using the pound without a formal agreement.

Meanwhile, Scotland’s first minister has said the independence vote is a “once in a generation” opportunity as he pledged not to bring back another referendum if Scots choose to remain in the UK.

As a series of polls indicate the vote on Thursday remains too close to call, Alex Salmond said one vote would be enough to win, but insisted the Yes campaign was hoping for a “substantial majority”.

No leads by 50.6% to 49.4%, according to Panelbase for the Sunday Times.

An ICM poll for the Sunday Telegraph put the Yes camp in front by 54% to 46%, although it had a smaller than usual sample size of 705.

Also, more than half of people living in England, Wales and Northern Ireland do not want Scotland to become an independent country, according to a poll.

The One Poll survey of 5,000 adults in the UK for Good Morning Britain found that 53% of respondents outside Scotland did not want the country to leave, compared to 21% who did.

It also revealed that nearly half (48%) said they did not care whether Scotland becomes an independent country, while 42% said they did not think it would make any difference to their lives. The survey shows some concerns about the financial impact of an independent Scotland on the rest of the UK.

The survey was carried out between September 3 and 12 across the UK.

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