In an exclusive interview with the Tweeddale Press, John Swinney has said independence would bring more ‘connectivity’ for Borderers and increase economic opportunities.
Speaking during a visit to Kelso, Mr Swinney MSP, cabinet secretary for finance, said: “If you look at what we’ve done under devolution, the statistics speak for themselves - the Scottish economy has got back to its pre-recession levels of activity earlier than the UK economy.
“Why’s that - well that’s because the Scottish Government has taken a different set of decisions, we’re investing in the economy and we’ve done that with just a limited range of powers at our disposal, so with a broader range of powers at our disposal we could strengthen and support the effective promotion of Scottish businesses overseas into new markets and we could invest more significantly in the capital infrastructure of our country. Of course infrastructure projects are crucial to the connectivity of the Scottish Borders and enable more and more businesses and individuals to be better connected with the wider world, where so many of our economic opportunities will come from.”
Responding to Chancellor George Osborne’s comments that the Borders would be hardest hit by independence, Mr Swinney said: “I really don’t understand that point of view because I want to make sure that companies in the Borders are able to have even more connectivity than they have got just now - access to markets south of the border, access to international markets - that’s at the heart of our economic propositions, and to make sure that companies here are able to benefit from the renewed focus we would have on creating better economic conditions here in Scotland.
“I don’t understand the arguments put forward that somehow the establishment of independence does anything other than give us a better ability to compete in the international markets and to generate economic returns for localities like the Borders.”