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Scottish independence would lead to a sharp fall in exports to England and hit household incomes, with the SNP’s planned separate currency worth about 20 per cent less than the pound, a leading economist has suggested.

Tony Mackay, who advises the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank and the European Commission, said “there can be no doubt that an independent Scotland could be economically viable”, but voters deserve objective analysis about its implications.

In a paper for The Sunday Times, Mackay, who advised the government of Bosnia-Herzegovina after its independence from Yugoslavia, said: “The bottom line is that average incomes in Scotland would be lower. Many people would be unaffected but those working in export industries and the public sector would be. Foreign holidays, including…

Senior Conservatives have backed Gordon Brown’s plan to reform devolution in an effort to strengthen the Union.

Andy Street, mayor for the West Midlands, said that more respect should be given to the English regions as part of a sharing of power and ideas to benefit the entire UK.

The idea proposed by Brown, the former Labour prime minister, would involve establishing a forum to bring together the first ministers of the UK, the regional English mayors, and the prime minister to collaborate on key priorities such as climate change, economic recovery and poverty.

“He’s right. If you look at the West Midlands economy it’s far bigger than Wales, substantially bigger than Northern Ireland, almost as big as Scotland,” Street told Times Radio.

Nine hospital treatment centres which the SNP promised to deliver by 2021 are yet to open, including four intended to provide rapid care for cancer patients.

Nicola Sturgeon vowed in 2016 to launch five new surgery suites providing common operations such as hip and knee replacements during the next parliament. Not one is seeing patients yet and plans for two are under review.

That same year the Scottish government published a cancer strategy which said six new cancer centres would be launched, offering faster diagnoses and treatment. Insiders say just two — a “rejig” of existing services planned under a previous Scottish Labour coalition government — are operational.

Opening three new fast-track cancer diagnosis centres is now part of the SNP’s current election campaign.

An independent Scotland would have to implement a more stringent form of “austerity” than the vision outlined in the SNP’s Growth Commission because of the pandemic, according to a leading economist.

David Phillips, associate director at the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS), warned that the country would be left “with a relatively high budget deficit, substantially higher than the rest of the UK” in the event of a “yes” vote.

Nicola Sturgeon has been accused of putting independence before schools by launching her bid for another referendum on the day auditors revealed that she failed to improve education for poorer children.

Before the 2016 Holyrood election, Sturgeon said education would be her number one priority She pledged to “substantially close the attainment gap” between affluent and deprived children by the end of the current parliament — which ended yesterday — and “to eliminate it within a decade”.

But Audit Scotland, the spending watchdog that independently assesses the government’s performance, said in a report published on Tuesday: “Progress on closing the gap has been limited and falls short of the Scottish government’s aims.”

© Scotland Matters