Another day, another hole blown in Alex Salmond’s case for breaking up Britain. The IFS has today published its estimates (based on the OBR’s) for Scottish oil and gas revenues, and they’re less than half those of the SNP administration in Edinburgh.
Salmond forecast oil and gas revenues of between £6.8 billion and £7.9 billion in 2016-17. The IFS puts it at £3.3 billion. Salmond’s best-case scenario for 2017-18 has Scotland with a deficit of 1.0 per cent of GDP; the IFS’s figures suggest that’ll be closer to 3.6 per cent of GDP. A country like Britain can ride out such fluctuations, but Salmond may find he’s swapping rule from London by rule by OPEC. On the basis of these new figures, the IFS has calculated that cutting an independent Scotland would have to keep cutting – if it didn’t, its deficit in 2018-19 would more than double. Salmond has complained long and loud about cuts made by the coalition in areas like welfare, but he should not pretend the fiscal options of an independent Scotland would be any more attractive.