IN HIS recent Courier column, Paul McLennan quoted Charles Dickens, claiming that independence would free Scotland from a “winter of despair”. As a former journalist, I have heard politicians talking tripe over the years, but this one needed calling out.

A new report from the Institute for Government has warned that Scotland will face two stark choices if it separates from the UK. It will have to implement £8.5 billion in tax rises, £8.5 billion in spending cuts or a painful combination of the two. The thinktank also warned that interest rates would go through the roof.

Regardless of what currency it adopted, an independent Scotland would be forced to reduce its deficit to somewhere below three per cent. The technical term for this is ‘fiscal consolidation’. This means being forced to cut NHS spending, slash your state pension, reduce social security and take an axe to spending on schools, roads and railways.

And, if that’s not bad enough, your taxes would rise and your mortgage payments would soar. That’s because, outside of the UK and with its own volatile currency, Scotland’s credit rating would fall. In turn, the Government – and you and I – would have to pay more to borrow money.

Compare and contrast this bleak outlook to the Union dividends: record levels of investment by the UK Government into Scotland, a stable economy, rising pensions, low interest rates – and more recently the furlough scheme, financial support for businesses during the pandemic, and the Covid vaccine rollout.

So the next time Mr McLennan claims that being part of the UK means the “worst of times”, he would do well to consider what an independent Scotland might look like with his party’s mismanagement of our economy, the NHS, schools, prisons and other services.