Last week the UK Government published its second Scotland Analysis paper, this time looking at the currency options for an independent Scotland.
It set out four main choices: firstly, negotiating a formal sterling currency union with the continuing UK; secondly, adopting the pound without the formal consent of the continuing UK; thirdly, joining the euro area; fourthly, introducing an independent Scottish currency.
The paper sets out that all of these options would not be as good for Scotland or the rest of the UK as our current arrangements because of the way they would alter the financial and economic position of both countries. These options would also not be in the best interests of local businesses and families who greatly benefit from the UK’s closely-integrated economy for their incomes, mortgages, loans and trade.
The crisis in the eurozone has also shown that the first option, a formal sterling zone, as proposed by the SNP, would be difficult to sustain without close fiscal integration. Such an arrangement seems to defeat the whole purpose of independence as it would deny Scotland the control over its currency and important financial levers which the pro-independence parties demand.
As a Scot, I want the best possible deal for Scotland and I am absolutely convinced, as the paper concludes, that remaining in the UK provides this.
Community Fuel-Buying Groups
I know that many Borderers who are off the main gas grid have struggled with rising fuel prices in recent years. To help them get a better deal on their fuel bills, it seems that setting up fuel-buying groups are an excellent way of doing this.
There are groups already set up in the Ettrick and Yarrow valley, and Chirnside, and last week I held a meeting with community councillors, Scottish Borders Council and other local stakeholders to discuss how we could see more such groups set up across the region.
The meeting was very productive and it was good to see enthusiasm among the attendees .
I want to encourage anyone reading this column who would like to get involved and help set up such a group in their area to contact my office on 01896 663650.
Consultation on ITV
This week the consultation on the future of ITV Border closed.
I am confident many responses will have outlined a preference for Borders-focused news and current affairs programming.
Speaking to local people over the years, I know the vast majority of Borderers enjoy the ITV service, but want to see a return to the pre-2009 provision which was Borders-relevant.