23 February 2019
Pro-union supporters hold a rally at Trafalgar Square in London on Monday. Photo: AFP
Pro-union supporters hold a rally at Trafalgar Square in London on Monday. Photo: AFP

US alarmed by prospects of Scottish independence

Senior US figures, including former Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan, warned that a “yes” vote for independence would be an economic mistake for Scotland and a geopolitical disaster for the West.

Washington has reacted with alarm to the latest opinion polls showing that the separatist camp has virtually closed the gap on the unionists before Thursday’s referendum on the issue, the Financial Times reported.

“We have an interest in seeing the UK remain strong, robust and united,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest was quoted as saying.

Greenspan, former chairman of the US Federal Reserve, said the economic consequences of independence would be “surprisingly negative for Scotland, more so than the Nationalist party is in any way communicating”.

“Their [nationalist] forecasts are so implausible they really should be dismissed out of hand,” Greenspan said, citing the pace of decline in North Sea oil production.

He said he believed London would not agree to a currency union. Differing fiscal policies would also cause any Scottish attempt at using the pound regardless to “break apart very quickly”, Greenspan said.

“There’s no conceivable, credible way the Bank of England is going to sit there as a lender of last resort to a new Scotland,” Greenspan was quoted as saying.

Robert Zoellick, former US deputy secretary of state and World Bank president, said a break-up of the UK  “would be a diminution of Britain and a tragedy for the west just at a moment when the US needs strong partners”.

He said he also believed “it would not work out well for the Scots either”.

Senator John McCain, a former Republican presidential candidate,  said he was reluctant to comment on another nation’s internal issue, but said he could not see how Scottish independence could be helpful as far as the military relationship between the UK and the US are concerned.

Washington is also worried that a “yes” vote could increase the chances that the rest of the UK might vote to leave the European Union.

“That is our nightmare – Scottish independence followed by a British exit from the EU,” said a senior administration official.

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