The publication of the SNP’s paper ‘Building a New Scotland - A stronger economy with independence’, has at least afforded some light relief following the unceremonious dismissal of Trussonomics, south of the border. It’s quite hard not to laugh at the SNP’s pledge to “diversify energy generating capacity”, while doggedly refusing to allow new, carbon-free, nuclear power plants to be built in Scotland. You’d have to bite your tongue to stop sniggering at the pledge to “escape a UK economic model that concentrates wealth in London and the southeast”, which just happens to be where the fiscal transfers that Scotland’s vital public services rely on are currently generated. Indeed, there is no mention in the document at all of Scotland’s massive current account deficit, which is an astonishing omission from an economic report.

The assurance that we would keep the English pound after independence, “until the time is right to move to a Scottish pound”, would be side-splitting if it wasn’t so serious. ‘Sterlingisation’ would mean the Bank of England would have full control of Scotland’s monetary policy, while the Scottish government would have no say in it whatsoever. Not having our own currency and relying instead on the English pound would also prohibit an independent Scotland from joining the EU, another fantasy pledge in the SNP paper. But the real side-splitter has to be the promise to retain free movement of people and goods across these islands, even after Scotland joins the EU, if it ever managed to do so. In the SNP’s make-believe world there would be no need for a hard border with England and the rUK, where we do 63% of our trade and no objections from the EU or indeed from England, when the SNP ensures that we will get the workers we need “by reversing Scotland’s long-term population trends and regaining access to talented and committed people from across Europe and the world,” in other words free flow immigration!

Like Nicola Sturgeon’s barren keynote speech at last week’s SNP conference, there is no mention of defence spending, overseas development aid, who pays our pensions, or how do we pay for the creation of departments to replace HMRC and all the other departments of state or meet the £23.7 billion fiscal deficit. There is no mention of how much trade damage a hard border would cause and how we would overcome it. An independent Scotland with that sort of soaring budget deficit would not be welcomed back into the EU and the creation of a hard border with England would compound our financial difficulties. While the UK was a member of the EU economic and customs union for 47 years, Scotland has been a member of the UK economic and customs union for the past 313 years. We have enjoyed the free movement of people, goods and services throughout the UK during all that time. We have also enjoyed the benefits of being a member of the UK monetary union, social union, political union, cultural union, common security union and everything else that goes with our long-standing partnership over the past three centuries. If Brexit was bad, Scexit would be catastrophic. The Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) has stated that SNP plans for independence would lead to a “decade of austerity” with cuts in public services having to make up for slow growth. The SNP’s new economic paper offers no clues as to how these problems could be overcome. Those who think Trussonomics was a joke should read the SNP’s ‘Building a New Scotland’ for a real chortle.