Currency Options for a Free Scotland


“Project Fear” is the anti-independence No campaign’s negative strategy to put doubt into the minds of the voters. Sowing economic uncertainty is key, with confusion their best ally. Downing Street has correctly determined that if enough authoritative voices can be made to sound objective and pessimistic, uncertainty and doubt will push voters towards maintaining the status quo. Fear of an unclear future is key. 

The core economic argument about the currency is confusing for voters. The governor of the Bank of England has weighed in on the side of the No campaign saying a currency union is incompatible with sovereignty. A statement which is true insofar as it goes, as the smaller countries in the €urozone have discovered, a nation is not completely sovereign if it does not control its own currency.manx-notes

Irish PuntThere are of course options open to post independence Scotland to negotiate with Westminster. Ireland post-1922 independence operated a  Saorstát pound at parity until 1978 when it switched to shadowing the Deutschmark before entering the ERMThe most obvious conveniently nearby example is that of the self-governing Isle of Man, which operates a one-sided de facto currency union with the United Kingdom. The Manx government has made the UK currency legal tender on the island, and backs its own independent currency with Bank of England notes. They even have the Queen pictured on the notes…

This arrangement has operated smoothly for some 300 years. The Isle of Man is, like Edinburgh, a financial centre with a GDP per capita (according to IMF figures) of $53,800, putting it slightly behind Switzerland and slightly ahead of the USA. This is even more impressive when you realise that their wealth is despite the Isle of Man having no oil resources…

An independent Scotland could, like its near neighbour the Isle of Man, operate a one-sided de facto currency union with the United Kingdom without asking the permission of the governor of the Bank of England. Scottish pubs will after independence as readily accept English pounds and Scottish poonds at parity. The Yes side should wave Manx pound notes at their opponents – they’re as safe as the Bank of England…

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