EXCL Jeremy Corbyn's former economics guru backs Scottish independence

Posted On: 
31st March 2017

The economist credited with inspiring much of Jeremy Corbyn’s early fiscal policy has backed Scotland quitting the UK in a fresh independence referendum, PoliticsHome can reveal.

Richard Murphy says he would vote for independence.
PA Images

Richard Murphy said in the current political climate UK countries needed a fresh start, adding: “If I was given that chance or opportunity I would take it.”

Mr Murphy, whose ideas - for example on the Bank of England printing money for public investment - were taken up by Mr Corbyn during his first Labour leadership bid, also said an independent Scotland must have its own currency if it wants to control its “destiny”.

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His comments come as Nicola Sturgeon wrote to Theresa May demanding she respect the wishes of Holyrood and grant Scotland another independence vote.

In an interview for the PoliticsHome podcast to be released later today, Mr Murphy said: “If I was living in Scotland - if I had a vote - I suspect I would vote for independence.”

He added: “The economic data isn’t good enough to justify that opinion so I would have to justify my arguments on another basis.

“And I think that the way in which the UK is heading, the way in which politics in the UK heading and the way in which we are leading Brexit, all indicate that Scotland - or any other part of the UK, candidly - needs another chance, another opportunity.

“And if I was given that chance or opportunity I would take it.”

During the previous Scottish independence referendum in 2014, the SNP argued Scotland should be able to keep the pound after breaking away from the UK.

But Mr Murphy said: “If a state is to be independent it has to have its own currency. In my opinion the two are fundamentally related to each other.”

He said if Scotland was tied to the pound it would have no control over its own fiscal policy and would therefore lack key “levers of power” required to run its own economy.

“If Scotland wants to be in control of its own destiny it has to have its own currency as a consequence - there is no question of that,” he added.

Such a proposal may be impossible for Scotland if it quits the UK and wishes to re-join the EU, since all new member states to the bloc from 2020 will have to sign up to joining the euro.

But Mr Murphy suggested Scotland should simply agree to adopting the euro with no intention of following through, if it plans to apply for EU membership.