We’ve just had to have a bit of a sit down after trying in vain to get our heads around the dizzying spin deployed in a story in this morning’s Herald, which appears to utilise some form of crazed Catch 22 to ensure that no matter whether an independent Scotland was stony broke or rolling in cash, it’d still end up skint.
We’ll give you a moment to guess who wrote it, and then we’re going to step through the piece line by line and see if we can figure out what sort of madness is afoot.
Warning over Scots EU costs
SCOTLAND’S payments to the European Union could rise from £124 million to £673m under independence, official figures suggest.
They do? Which official figures are these? Where can we read them? And what exactly do you mean by “suggest”?
An independent Scotland, with oil reserves, would become the third richest country in the EU in terms of GDP per head.
That sounds like good news!
It is feared this would push up payments.
Oh. We forgot that for Scotland, uniquely, being rich is a BAD thing.
Figures in the Scottish Government’s GERS (Government Expenditure and Revenues in Scotland) report estimated Scotland’s share of the UK contribution to the EU at £124m.
That would rise to £378m if an independent Scotland managed to retain a share of the UK’s existing budget rebate, worth £295m.
It would? How do we know this? Who said so? Which formula was used to calculate these figures? The use of the word “if” seems to imply the rebate would be the subject of negotiation, so how can we know before that negotiation has taken place what the possible outcomes of it would be?
If ministers failed to negotiate a rebate, the bill would rise to £673m.
See previous paragraph. But even in this worst-case scenario, an extra £500m or so frankly still seems like a bargain compared to the £4.4bn we currently pay as a subsidy to the UK for the privilege of regular Tory governments.
Many experts, including leading economist Professor John Kay, have warned an independent Scotland would have little chance of retaining a slice of the rebate.
Who else? Why would we “have little chance”? Can we have some quotes in support of this assertion? Links? Anything?
However, Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon insisted a deal to keep the discount could be struck.
It is said payments would rise as an independent Scotland, with oil reserves, would be among the wealthiest EU countries in terms of GDP per head. Only the Netherlands and Luxembourg would be better off.
So… we’d be better off than the UK, then? (And even than mighty Germany.)
Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie MSP said: “The SNP government’s own figures have laid bare the real cost of the nationalist’s independence plans. Even with the rebate an independent Scotland’s payment to the EU would triple to £378m.”
Can we assume that you can point us to a paragraph in an official Scottish Government document making this statement, Willie? Or is it another one of your “special” EU statistics like the one about 14,000 treaties needing to be negotiated, which the UK government has now disowned?
A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “The EU Budget for 2014-2020 was agreed by EU finance ministers (subject to European Parliament approval). Up to independence Scotland will contribute to that as part of the UK and would then negotiate with the UK an appropriate division. In 2020 all aspects will be subject to fresh negotiations.”
Short version: “everything in this Herald story is pure speculative drivel”.
Welcome to the Scottish media, folks.