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The Untied Kingdom

The Untied Kingdom

So, a day before the trigger was pulled on Article 50, MSPs passed a motion, by a 10-vote majority, to give Nicola Sturgeon authority to seek a second referendum between autumn 2018 and spring 2019.  She cannot keep calling for a referendum every time she doesn’t get the outcome she so badly wants, but she has a point. Brexit does indeed change things quite fundamentally.

What the First Minister has chosen to disregard, or at least has chosen not to bring up in the public domain, is that Scotland can hardly afford the independence that she so desperately seeks. Scotland runs a fiscal deficit of about 9.5% of GDP at present and only survives because of grants from London. Yet, she has promised a significant increase in welfare spending in an independent Scotland. Her case was a great deal stronger when oil prices hovered around $120-130 per barrel. With oil prices around $50, she has no case at all.

Unless Scotland is prepared to pay EM-like interest rates on their foreign debt, some very serious cut-backs in welfare spending await. Looking ahead, it won’t be particularly amusing to be a tax payer in an independent Scotland. For that reason, I suspect she will also lose the next referendum, but you never know. Stranger things have happened. Growing nationalism created a president called Trump, and it created a UK outside the EU. Could it also create an independent Scotland?

About the Author

Niels Clemen Jensen founded Absolute Return Partners in 2002 and is Chief Investment Officer. He has over 30 years of investment banking and investment management experience and is author of The Absolute Return Letter.

In 2018, Harriman House published The End of Indexing, Niels' first book.