The Scottish First Minister this week appeared to back away from her aggressive independence rhetoric. She suggested she would reject a proposal from Alex Salmond’s Alba Party to immediately negotiate for an Indyref2 after Holyrood’s May elections. On Thursday, Ms Sturgeon set out a series of key actions her government will take in the first 100 days of the new Holyrood should the Scottish National Party (SNP) win re-election.
The omission of any early independence drive in the document was seen as a sign she would not immediately look to call for a new referendum.
Ms Sturgeon denied criticism that she was being “too cautious”, stressing instead that the immediate focus needed to be on recovering from the coronavirus pandemic.
Serious questions have been asked of the viability of an independent Scotland.
Nowhere was this more prevalent than on the publication of the Government Expenditure and Revenue Scotland (GERS) report for 2019-20.
Between 2019 and 2020, Scotland’s share of North Sea oil and gas receipts fell by around half to £724million, according to the tax and spending figures.
They revealed the country’s net fiscal balance, including North Sea revenues, was “in the red” by £15.1billion – 8.6 percent of GDP, as reported by Energy Voice.
This was compared to a shortfall of £13.2billion in 2018-19.
By comparison the UK’s total deficit was 2.5 percent of GDP.
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This is true of the figures, but also important as the UK and the world makes the shift to renewable energy.
The Scottish Green Party’s co-leader, Patrick Harvie, earlier this month slammed the “reckless” funding and subsidies for fossil fuels in Scotland.
He said the country and the UK as a whole should instead invest and focus attention on green alternatives.
But Scotland is not currently anywhere near that level.
Ms Sturgeon also faces the problem of hefty import-export fees slapped on to goods crossing the border with England.
She says she wants to keep trade flowing across the border if an independent Scotland re-joined the EU.
Speaking on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show last week, she said Scotland would negotiate arrangements to “keep trade flowing freely”.
Opponents say a hard border with England would be “dreadful for trade”.