This should be one of the main questions people ask themselves every time this subject comes up as the answers will vastly affect us all.
I don’t have the answers but can give out some facts that I find challenging to independence.
The SNP says Scotland want to stay in Europe as we have a large trading partnership with them, that’s not what their own export statistics tell us. In 2017 Scotland exported £48.9 billion to the rest of Britain, £17.6billion to the rest of the world and £14.9billion to Europe, so our biggest exporter is the one they want to leave. What country wants to chance of a fall out with their biggest exporter?
The SNP says leaving Europe will cost up to 100,000 Scottish jobs, it has never mentioned what it would cost in jobs if we left the rest of the UK.
To stay with Europe as an independent nation we would have to accept the euro as our currency, also their bureaucracy, loss of fishing rights and the cost of supporting Euro MPs.
If we do not join Europe, or more likely they will not accept us due to our high debt and inability to contribute to their coffers, the cost of setting up our own currency would cost us hundreds of millions of pounds for the privilege. The value of this on the international system would be hard to substantiate, being a new country with no record of valuation on the foreign markets, i.e. what would you get for your Scottish money abroad on holiday?
We are already in debt that we are struggling to pay off, this ranges between £9 to £13 billion, if we left the UK they will want to pass on OUR share of the national debt, mainly from the banking crisis, two of which were Scottish banks who swallowed billions of pounds of tax payers money with little chance of getting it back.
Figures vary for this, but it will certainly run into 10s of billions of pounds. Scotland is already paying out over £800 million a year on the interest for our debt now, so what would it cost the taxpayer for our share of the national debt?
To pay off this debt or even just the interest the Scottish Government would need to raise more money, through taxes and cutting services, we have just gone through the hardest bit of austerity with a Westminster government and could face even larger issues if independence happens.
The Scottish Government has taken on some of the services given over by Westminster, collecting their own taxes being the main one, which incidentally are now the highest in the UK.
The biggest and costliest system they have not asked for but will need to take on if they got independence are social services, this is a huge system that drains more money from the government coffers than the NHS.
How will Scotland who, as mentioned above will have huge debts, be able to run the same system that Westminster pays billions for at present?
The SNP have long argued that a system devised in the late seventies called the Barnett Formula must be kept by the British government, although it is not law and can be stopped at any time. The system was set up to ensure that the rural areas of the UK are not deprived of vital services, schools, buses etc.
Who will pay for this if we gained independence, for Shetland would that mean the discount on flights and ferries could disappear for islanders?
The other issue with this is that if Scotland can afford to be independent then why does the SNP argue to keep the Barnett formula, surely, we would tell Westminster to stop this payment as we do not require it to prove financial independence?
Is this not a tell-tale sign that the government is already aware that they will struggle to pay for an independent Scotland?
To get this information did not take long, a couple of hours sitting in front of the computer during a wet evening, but what I have seen would not only affect my generation but the next generations to come who would have to pay for the costs of independence.