* Currency a key issue in Scottish referendum campaign
* Soros sees Scottish euro membership as an option
* Separate currency could be open to attack
LONDON, March 12 Billionaire financier George
Soros said on Wednesday it would not be practical for an
independent Scotland to keep the British pound, and warned a
separate currency would be "potentially dangerous" as weak
currencies can be attacked.
A row over currency is heating up as Scots prepare to vote
on Sept. 18 in a referendum on whether to break away from the
rest of the United Kingdom.
Nationalists wanting to share the pound in a currency union
with the UK and retain the services of the Bank of England. But
the three main UK parties have united to reject that plan,
telling Scotland if it leaves the United Kingdom, it leaves the
Soros said this made for a "very difficult relationship".
"I don't think that Scotland leaving and becoming
independent and yet remaining part of sterling and (the) Bank of
England is actually practical," he told a news conference in
London, where he was promoting a new book on the European Union.
Soros said an independent currency would be "very
inefficient and potentially dangerous".
"Markets, currencies, can be attacked and you can speculate
against currencies, and when you have a weak currency, positions
can be taken," added the man who famously broke the Bank of
England by betting against the pound during the 1992 sterling
Soros said an alternative would be for Scotland to seek
membership of the European Central Bank and become part of the
eurozone, adopting the euro as its currency.
Scottish leader Alex Salmond has insisted that an
independent Scotland would keep the pound in the best interests
of both sides of the border, prompting speculation that it would
use sterling without a formal arrangement with London.
He argues that an independent Scotland has a right to share
the assets as well as the liabilities of the United Kingdom, and
that without access to the pound it may not take up its share of
Britain's 1.2 trillion pound debt.
Several business leaders have recently expressed concerns
about a vote for independence, highlighting uncertainties over
the currency, tax and regulatory regimes and European Union
Opinion polls have the separatists lagging with about one
third support while about half of Scottish residents oppose
ending a 307-year tie with England. But the polls have narrowed
this year and up to 15 percent of voters remain undecided.