Independence could set Scotland's economy back 10 years, warns top SNP adviser
Scotland's economy would take up to 10 years to recover if the country became independent, according to the SNP's top economic adviser.
Andrew Wilson, who heads up the Growth Commission set up by Nicola Sturgeon to examine an independent Scotland's economic prospects, made the startling prediction at a summit of senior party figures in January.
His forecast is a major blow to the SNP leader, who this week announced that she wants to hold a fresh independence referendum by spring 2019 at the latest.
Details of the top-secret meeting - which included Ms Sturgeon, her husband and SNP chief executive Peter Murrell, deputy First Minister John Swinney and the party's Westminster leader, Angus Robertson - were revealed in Holyrood magazine.
The get-together took place at Craigellachie Hotel in Mr Robertson's Moray constituency, and featured a presentation by Mr Wilson, a former SNP MSP and Royal Bank of Scotland economist who is now a PR executive and lobbyist.
He said rather than increase taxes, an independent Scotland should follow a "steady as she goes" approach to the economy.
That, Mr Wilson claimed, could see the economy return to the position it is now in a five-to-ten-year period.
Angus Robertson said he would not comment on a private meeting.
An SNP spokesman confirmed the meeting had taken place, but also refused to comment on what was discussed.
The Yes campaign's failure to make a strong enough economic case for an independent Scotland - including what currency the new country would use - is seen as the main factor behind their loss in the 2014 referendum.
Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson said "the first minister has been caught out trying to hide the cost of independence".
"Her own finance guru is telling Nicola Sturgeon that her plans would inflict 10 years of pain and cuts on Scotland just to get us back to the point where we are now, as part of the UK," she said.
"That's 10 years of Scotland's schools, hospitals and public services being under-funded while jobs and the economy suffer, just so the SNP leader can pursue her childhood dream of separation.
"It's telling that - knowing this - Nicola Sturgeon has chosen to press ahead with another referendum, against the wishes of the Scottish people. She has ceased to act for all of Scotland and is now hell-bent on pursuing her own partisan agenda."
Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale said: "This is a bombshell revelation that exposes the devastating economic reality of independence.
"The fact that even the man responsible for rebuilding the SNP's discredited economic case for separation has reportedly admitted that it would take a decade for Scotland to recover says it all.
"The Nationalists' case for breaking up the UK is even weaker now than it was back in 2014. The reality is that leaving the UK would mean turbo charged austerity, which would devastate our valued public services like schools and hospitals.
"In 2014, the Nationalists repeatedly marched into the poorest communities in Scotland and gave false hope that everything would be better with independence. But even Andrew Wilson now admits that cutting £15bn from schools and hospitals will make it harder to help the poorest and most vulnerable in Scotland because of the devastating impact independence would have on our economy."