I found David Cameron less than convincing in Glasgow last night, when he claimed that independence would cut Scotland off from rUK markets. Is he seriously proposing that there would be customs controls, prohibitive tariffs, a frozen icescape of no trade across the two nations? Not believable. His homely examples weren’t quite spot-on either – that Scottish Power generates electricity for Merseyside, and that Irn-Bru is made in Milton Keynes: they sound more like a claim that England needs Scotland, rather than one saying that Scotland needs England. Has our David got his thoughts the right way round on this one?
He’s also got the other single market looming behind his back, the European Union of 500million people, ten times the size of the UK. Why is DC arguing for the importance of the little one, while preparing to pull out of the bigger? And the single market is not limited to the EU – three EFTA countries, namely Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway, adopt EU single-market legislation as a matter of course, and the fourth EFTA country, Switzerland, has a series of bilateral arrangments. This would be a possible route for Scotland.
Cameron also claimed that banks such as RBS would leave Scotland, because there wouldn’t be enough domestic business. Wrong way round again, David: this is good news, because nobody wants to live in an economy that is under constant threat of destruction by one single enterprise that gets too big for its boots. The real question will be not how to keep large banks, but how to wind them down so that they exit gracefully.
Hot air last night, Mr Cameron, and not believable. And 200 other business leaders in the city said so yesterday.