LONDON, March 29 British Finance Minister George
Osborne on Saturday denied a newspaper report that Scotland may
keep the British pound even if it votes for independence later
this year, an issue at the heart of the Scottish secession
Polls show the question of what currency an independent
Scotland would use has been high in Scottish voters' minds ahead
of an independence referendum on Sept. 18, with many worrying
about the economic uncertainties a new currency would bring if
they voted to end the 300-year-old union with England.
"Walking out of the UK means walking out of the UK pound,"
he said on Saturday in a joint statement with Treasury Chief
Secretary Danny Alexander.
Scottish nationalists want 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
On Saturday, though, in a boost for the pro-independence
lobby, the Guardian newspaper quoted an unnamed UK government
minister as saying a currency union will eventually be agreed
between an independent Scotland and the rest of Britain to
ensure economic stability on both sides of the border.
"Of course there would be a currency union," the minister
told the paper.
"There would be a highly complex set of negotiations after a
'yes' vote, with many moving pieces. The UK wants to keep
Trident nuclear weapons at Faslane and the Scottish government
wants a currency union - you can see the outlines of a deal."
Scottish leader Alex Salmond has repeatedly insisted that
nuclear weapons would be removed from their Faslane base on the
river Clyde if Scots back independence.
Osborne said in the statement: "The Scottish government are
proposing to divorce the rest of the UK but want to keep the
joint bank account and credit card.
"The UK would not put its taxpayers at risk of bailing out a
foreign country and its banks. Parliament would not pass it, and
the people would not accept it.
"Any suggestion to the contrary is wrong."
Opinion polls have the separatists lagging with about one
third support while about half of Scottish residents oppose
breaking away. However, polls have narrowed this year and up to
15 percent of voters remain undecided.
(Reporting by Stephen Addison; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky)