Douglas Carswell

20 SEP 2016

The SNP's Brexit claims are bogus

Three months since the referendum, Project Fear's economic warnings have already proven false. But none are more bogus than those of Remain's most recalcitrant rearguard: the SNP.

Nicola Sturgeon makes out that, compared to the rest of the UK, Scotland's economy will be particularly badly hit by Brexit.

But what's the basis for this idea?

As Moneyweek's Matthew Lynn writes, the numbers don't support the SNP's case. Because, compared to the UK as a whole, Scotland does a much lower proportion of its trade with the European single market.

Excluding oil and gas, Scotland's exports to the EU are worth £11.6 billion per year, compared to £15.2 billion for those to the rest of the world, and £48 billion to the rest of the UK. So, if Scotland left the UK post-Brexit, just 18% of its total exports would go to the EU.

Moreover, its exports to the EU fell by 16% last year – the fastest of any of the four nations in the UK.

Plus, businesses in Scotland already use much less cheap EU labour than those elsewhere in the UK. Just 7% of Scotland's workers are born abroad, compared to 13% for the country as a whole.

Then there are the opportunities. New free-trade deals could, for example, cut massive tariffs on exports of Scotch to developing countries, like India.

The SNP's goal of an independent Scotland is fundamentally political, not economic – as Nicola Sturgeon admits. What political union Scotland should be part of is up to the Scottish people. But it's got nothing to do with the economics of Brexit.

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