An “independent” Scotland must not be allowed to have the pound as their official currency

Robert Henderson

The Scottish Numpty Party leader Alex Salmond desperately wants to have his independence cake and eat it. He wishes to have DEVOMAX as well as independence on the “independence” ballot and, if the vote is for independence, he blithely imagines that the Queen will remain head of state, defence will be shared with the remainder of the UK (henceforth the UK) and , most tellingly because of his constant boasts about the robustness of an independent Scotland’s economy , that the pound Sterling will continue to be currency used by Scotland. It is the last which I shall concern myself with here.

It is vital that Scotland should not continue to use the Pound as their national currency whilst pretending to be independent, because of the potential and probable damage it could do to Pound and the UK economy .

If an independent Scotland was allowed to retain the Pound the situation would not be like that of a heavily devolved country such as the USA , a single state where general monetary and fiscal policy is set at national level and, most importantly, money can be transferred from richer to poorer parts of the country. Rather, the position of the UK and Scotland split into two independent states would be akin to that of the Eurozone where there is no shared fiscal policy and no ability to move money from richer states to poorer states and chaos currently reigns. Chaos could well be the state the UK and an independent Scotland arrived at and probably sooner than later.

The situation with a UK/Scotland currency grouping could be more extreme than that of the Eurozone, because the Eurozone at least has theoretical rules to prevent member states from debauching the currency. If Scotland simply used the Pound without any rules the situation could deteriorate much more rapidly than the Eurozone, a likelihood reinforced by the much smaller size of the economic grouping UK/Scotland compared with the Eurozone. Whether an independent Scotland would agree to restraints on what they could do with stringent rules designed to protect the Pound is dubious: even more dubious is whether, if they agreed to such rules, they would abide by them when shove came to push .

If there is one thing which international traders and markets do not respond well to it is uncertainty. That is what the sharing of a currency between two independent states would guarantee. At present the Pound is freely traded currency which still has enough international credibility to be held widely as part of national reserves. Foreign investors and traders would rapidly begin to harbour doubts about who was exercising control over a currency being used by two supposedly independent states. Nor would international investors be reassured by the idea that whatever form control took, there would be two economies almost certainly being driven by seriously different political agendas. Without Scottish MPs, the House of Commons would have, at least for quite some time, a Tory majority with a strong free market agenda, an agenda which it is improbable that any likely Scottish Parliament and government would follow. This international uncertainty would extend to British based industry and commerce.

Whether an independent Scotland had no control over the pound or whether it exercised some control there would be serious difficulties. If the Scots had no control over the monetary and fiscal policy set at Westminster, these policies might be directly at odds with the wishes and needs of Scotland. Should that be the case you may be sure that a continuous barrage of complaint would come from north of the Tweed with pleas for monetary and fiscal policies to suit Scotland which might well disadvantage the rest of the UK. These pleas could of course be ignored at Westminster, but that would come at a cost because any serious financial or economic crisis in Scotland would result in a weakening of foreign confidence in the Pound and the general economic performance of not Scotland alone but of the UK and Scotland. This would again create uncertainty at home and abroad.

If the UK and an independent Scotland shared the pound, its fortunes would be judged by those who matter on the economic prospects and performance of the UK and Scotland combined, not as two separate economies. That would leave the UK and Scotland with many new disadvantages and precious few if any of the advantages which the Pound currently enjoys as a currency used by a single nation state with a long history of meeting its obligations.

The worst case scenario would be an independent Scotland which became another Republic of Ireland or Iceland through reckless spending and/or lax credit controls. The Pound would suffer severe consequences no matter how prudently and successfully the economy of the rest of the UK, was managed just as the German economy is suffering because of the less disciplined countries in the Eurozone. In such circumstances the rest of the UK would be faced with a choice between a rapidly depreciating and unstable pound if nothing was done or the provision of vast amounts of English taxpayers’ money to bail out Scotland.

The splitting of Czechoslovakia into the Czech Republic and Slovakia in 1993 is instructive. The official division took place on 1 January. Initially both countries retained the old Czechoslovak currency the koruna, but by 8 February they had set up separate national currencies (each also called the koruna) because the Czech Republic was substantially richer than Slovakia and having the same currency made no sense because she could only be a loser. In effect, the Czech Republic would have been subsidising Slovakia if they had continued to share a currency. (Once the new national currencies were established the Czech koruna traded at a substantially higher value than the new Slovakian koruna.)

In the case of an independent Scotland and UK sharing the Pound the UK (in effect England because Wales and Northern Ireland receive far more from the Treasury than they raise in tax) would be subsiding Scotland. This is because England is by population ten times the size of Scotland, has a much broader based economy and that economy is nowhere near as dependent on public money than Scotland. Even with Wales and Northern Ireland (both heavily dependent on public money) to support England is in far better economic shape than Scotland.

The Scottish private sector is very heavily dependent on a few industries: tourism, whisky, financial services and oil ; the proportion of Scottish GDP derived from public spending is above 60% ( and a substantial part of the GDP is derived from the higher per capita Treasury payment to Scotland compared with England – the Scots currently get around £1,600 per head more than the English which gives them around £8 billion more pa than they would get if they were paid the same as the English. (

What would there be to stop people in Scotland using the pound as currency regardless of the agreement of Westminster? Nothing in the sense that any Sterling held in Scotland could be used by those living in Scotland just as using the dollar or the Euro in England could be done if people were willing to accept it. But an independent Scotland would have no means of printing Sterling notes or minting Sterling coins, so it would be impractical to run an economy in that way because it would have no means of readily expanding the money supply. In addition, if the Scottish economy deteriorated badly holders of Sterling in Scotland could rapidly shrink the money supply by moving it out of the country.

That brings us to the matter of the three banks in Scotland which at present have the authority to issue sterling bank notes: Bank of Scotland, Clydesdale Bank and The Royal Bank of Scotland. If the Pound was denied to Scotland by Westminster or the Scots did not choose to use it, their issuing powers would be removed.

If the Pound was shared between the UK and an independent Scotland the Sterling banknote issuing rights of Scottish banks would either have to be rescinded or strictly limited. If this was not done Scotland could print as much money as they chose. Such controls over banknote issue would not be difficult for Westminster to enforce regardless of the wishes of a Scottish government. As things stand Scottish banknotes are legal currency as authorised by the Westminster Parliament but not legal tender .( Not being legal tender means amongst other things that no one is obliged to accept them in payment. That alone would prevent an independent Scotland having carte blanche to issue as many notes as they wanted , because although they could issue them they would be worthless outside Scotland if no one would accept them as they certainly would not. In addition, the note issuing banks are effectively beyond an independent Scotland’s control. RBS is more than 80% owned by the UK taxpayer, the Bank of Scotland is part of the Lloyds group which is 43% owned by the UK taxpayer and the Clydesdale Bank is part of National Australia Bank Group.

But the issuing of banknotes and coins is only a part of the money supply, and a diminishing one at that because of the ever increasing use of credit cards, direct debits and other non-physical money means of payment (   In addition there is the ability of financial institutions to expand the money supply by making loans directly to individuals and corporations, the use of state power to “print money” through procedures such as quantitative easing and the general fiscal tenor of a government in terms of such things as credit controls, taxation policy and regulation of the economy, especially the regulation of the banks and their ilk.

If all or any of these matters were left for the UK and an independent Scotland to decide each for themselves there would be inevitably serious political clashes. More fundamentally the effect of clashing policy decisions would be to undermine the Pound and by extension the economy of one or both countries. For example, if the UK introduced credit controls and Scotland did not, Scotland could run into the type of trouble created by the pre-2008 bubble while the UK did not, but the Pound would be weakened by the Scottish behaviour. If the Pound was shared between the UK and Scotland there would have to be very strict rules to ensure that reckless financial and fiscal behaviour was not possible. As mentioned previously, it is very doubtful that an independent Scotland would agree to such rules or observe them if they did officially accept them.

Allowing Scotland to use the Pound would have only disadvantages for England and would carry with it the risk of a sudden and drastic failure if Scotland became another Republic of Ireland or Iceland. For Scotland it would be all benefit because they would gain the advantage of using a recognised currency and know that the rest of the UK would have to bail them out if the Scottish economy went down the pan. Westminster should make it clear now that there is no question of an independent Scotland continuing to use the Pound.
The SNP are peddling a bogus independence .

If they really wanted Scotland to be its own master they would be seeking to establish their own currency not remain with the Pound or become enmeshed in the Euro.

This entry was posted in Devolution, Economics, Nationhood and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

43 Responses to An “independent” Scotland must not be allowed to have the pound as their official currency

  1. barry says:

    Scotland will not go into the Euro I suspect it will keep it’s Scottish currency as I do not want them having ours, you see when it comes down to it they need us more than we need them, they cannot accept it so spout on about indpendence to show their might to show the world that they are trying free the shackles of English dominance, in reality they know they cannot but to not say anything means acceptance and the politicans north of the border know to accept the status quo would mean almost certain death at any election…they need us and we do not want them anymore they cost too much when they do go which they will they must do so with their own Scottish currency.

    • Laugh@racists says:

      What language is that????? Sounds like you need to go to Scotland for an education.

    • Steven says:

      England needs Scotland more than Scotland needs England, Scotland sends all it’s V.A.T. ect to England to help England, then after using so much of Scotlands money, it sends back left overs. In 90s Tony Blair stole part of Scottish fishing waters on east coast, used Scottish Land to test GM crops, Margaret Thatcher tested Poll Tax on Scotland claiming if it went wrong it’d be less costly to UK, when Wales has smaller population, so it would have been less costly if tested on Wales, this shows English government is Anti Scottish, Scotland has even been held back from trading with others, cause it got in way of England trading & making money. Thats why Englands population has multiplied more faster than Scotland in last 1 or 2 centuries. Because England holds Scotland Econmy back from growing. Independent third world countries have shown that their Economy is speeding up faster than Scotlands, cause they control their own destiny. Nature shows, everyone always takes their own 1st, this being the case, that should mean that England will take itself 1st when told it’s either England or Scotland in any situation. With England being in control this has usually been proven to be the case. You wouldn’t look after someone elses family before your own would you ?
      Same with countries, England isn’t going to look after Scotland 1st, it’s going to make sure England is ok before it bothers to look after Scotlands interests.

  2. barry says:

    Who says you? Please indicated exactly what it is you are saying it;s rather vague. Scotland for an education, when we have the best universities here er no thanks!!

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  5. Antony says:

    Good article. My worry is a familiar one. For all the economic imperatives London’s political elite is foreign in the main. It has no loyalty to England, and no interest in securing the future of a country it wants to break up anyway. Scots wield influence behind the scenes as well as overtly. History shows they usually get their way. When Scottish asylum offices – to cite one minor example -effectively went on strike in 2003, refusing to process applications and sending everyone to England instead, it was a breach of law, to say nothing of the terms of Civil Service employment, Blair and Brown – Scotsmen both – chose to ignore. No-one lost their jobs. No-one was even disciplined. Who speaks for England? Nobody apparently [there’s a case for saying no-one has since 1066]. If we can ‘lend’ 8 billion to ‘friends’ in Ireland after half a century of being bombed and shot at in our own pubs and homes you may be sure Scotland will have priority in any new arrangements, whatever they may be. It isn’t as if we aren’t used to paying through the nose for the pleasure of their company.

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  7. Ernie says:

    oh a numpty with a good turn of words. pity your brain wasnt working when u wrote all that crap. you must be from ther south East. so that means that any one from north of derby diesnt count.
    you ar one ignorant man who doesnt have two brain cells to rub together, ( pity that you might ignite and this world would be one less ignorant person.

  8. Chris says:

    If you don’t want Scotland using £UK after independence then you will have make sterling a closed currency (like Morocco and places like that). This simply means removing sterling from the international money markets and only allowing people to purchase the currency when they enter. This will mean that you have no more need for Canary Warf or the City, so you can instantly create some jobs in the demolition trade to pull down all the skyscrapers, as this action will of course mean the end of London as a global economic centre!

    Does that not sound too good? Oh well, OK.

    In that case you better keep the markets openly trade able, and in doing so that means that Scotland can chose to use sterling if it wants to, because it is available internationally for trade. This way you get to finish building that Shard.

    We don’t mind using the sterling as a temp measure, honest we don’t, I mean your £20 note does have a Scot on the back of it doesn’t it, Adam Smith, so we are quite pleased with it really.

    Much love,


  9. Adi says:

    No way let Scotland use the pound as it will be the same as Greece to Germany as Greece as Euro so Germany has to bail them out so when Scotland goes bankrupt and it will then we will have to bail them out. England has 62m and Scotland has 5.2m people so why not just solve it like the old day fight for it and lets see who win lol

    • Steven says:

      Scotland has more right to pound, than England, as Scotland gave England, The Bank of England, after Scotland had created banking 1st. And let us not forget, I doubt things will be that different with an Independent Scotland, as Scotland has friends & Family in England & same vice versa. Scotland has right to control itself (Land, Water, Money & Trading). I don’t see Why anyone in England would be so affraid of Scotland controlling itself, to be against Scottish Independence is to act selfish & spoiled & wanting your own way over someone elses country.

      • Barry says:

        Yes that’s right you created it and what fine mess you made I mean RBS and BOS are fine examples of banking aren’t they?

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  11. Steven White says:

    1) Scotland gave England the bank of England, Scotland was 1st to have a bank before England then we showed England all about banking in the very start of banking.
    2) New Castle was taken from Scotland many years ago, & in early 90s Tony Blair, Prime Minister at time of Devolution in early 90s moved the Scottish / English border crossing east coast up higher to give more Scottish fishing waters to English fishermen ect, without permission from Scottish.
    3) England has a bigger population more roads ect & bigger National debt than Scotland. This is why England needs Scotland & is affraid of Scottish Independence. With Scottish Independence they wouldn’t have control of Scotlands trading or Scotlands Money & Land. Scotland wouldn’t have to send Scottish V.A.T. ect to England. Lets face it, if Scotland needed England, England wouldn’t be MAKING US PAY THEM ALL OUR V.A.T. ECT. Instead they would be sendind us their money but they don’t. We are given money from England after we pay they 1st, in effect we are just getting paid back our own money which we paid them 1st. 🙂

    • Mr White do you want to read what you have written again? I suggest you do it does not make any sense what so ever!!

      • Steven says:

        That’s because you need more EDUCATION, before you can understand read more about Scottish English History, not from a bias English person. Then come back & read again & you will be more enlightened & more educated. Thank you for Reply mpbaz. 🙂

      • Bias English Person? How is that so? Do you know me at all? Do you know my background and where I come from? NO! Please dont assume I am something as it makes you case easier to prove, I need more Education, Mr white you would know if you were suitably educated that to write in bold letters means you are shouting are you? If you are then please do not shout if you are not then please do not write in bold…now to the point we were discussing, please re read and re write what you have wrote and come back to me , what you have written is not fact, its not true and its the most biased piece of anti English rhetoric I have seen in a long time!!

  12. Steven says:

    One more point. Scotland, Ireland, England & Wales together pay Brussels 46,000,000 pounds a day, why is it that Scotland has many poor regions. This is why we see no help from England. In 90s, England had between 6 & 8 hospices for the dying young. Scotland had no hospices. So poor folk from Scotland had to travel back & forth or stay over in England to see a dying relative. The Scottish paper,- “Daily Record” helped readers to raise money so Scotland could have atleast 1 hospice, to save Scottish families long journeys to England to see dying relative. It’s a sad day when scotland paid taxes to England & yet government wouldn’t give us a hospice , whilst Government gave England between 6 & 8 hospices for the dying. This shows England looks after it’s own before thinking of Scotland, Wales or Ireland. It’s to be expected nature makes it so, to look after your own first. This is why Scotland needs Independence so it can look after it’s own first, as England does 😦

    • dyson says:

      Hospices in England are privately funded, usually by charities paid for by donations from the public. This has nothing to do with govt or how money is allocated. In fact the Scotts benefit from many free healthcare provisions that are denied to the English, persriptions, care for the elderly etc.

  13. You can have your Independence you are very welcome to it, but please do not come on here spouting lies about hospices and we have 6-8 (we either had 6 or 8) you cant have in between that number that is not how buildings work!! England has 60 million people to look after Scotland has 5 million who needs what/who more?

    • Steven says:

      The point I was making, is that Scotland had no hospice whilst England had more than 5 built over years. why not build 1 in England, 1 in Scotland, 1 in Wales & 1 in Ireland, all at same time. And then work along from there how many more each country in UK needs. There didn’t have to be more than 5 hospices in England then ignore Scotland. The fact that a Scottish newspaper had to make Scotland aware of this back in 90s, is terrible. More to the point the fact the same Scottish newspaper had to help Scotland raise money to build our own, because Government wouldn’t fund any hospice in Scotland at time, proves anti Scottish government at time. Same government asked Scotland to give up it’s Tartan & a Scottish Statue of a true Scottish hero & other Scottishnes. I was infront of television watching it on ITN news ect, all fact all true. Poll Tax was tested on Scotland, when Thatcher was asked why, her answer was ,- “Scotland has smaller population, if it doesn’t work it wont be so costly a mistake”. if this were true then she should have choosen another nation of UK to test it on, as there were 1 or 2 others with smaller population than Scotland. Again London government showing their anti Scottish. I’m not anti English I have English relatives & friends. Chemicles after World War 2 were dumped in Scottish waters of west coast of Scotland by England. Why didn’t they dump of coast of England ? Because years later they could wash up on shore and they did in 90s, causing Scottish sun bathers chemicle burns on their skin. Also in 90’s GM crops were sneaked in back door of Scotland under orders of Labour government in London, this was so if it goes wrong only 6,000,000 odd Scots would be angry & not larger population of England. As I said before, when faced with a problem, a nation would rather give it to another than have it themselves. Which is why England keeps using Scotland as a test ground & dumping ground ect, which is why Scotland needs more control what happens on it’s land & waters. I don’t hate English I just don’t like the way Scotland is treated. Even the jokes about Scottish money, & not always accepting our money, when Scotland accepts English bank notes. We just want more respect & aknowledgement for taking part in battle against hitler in World War 2, again up in Scotland, on World War 2 documentaries, it’s always,- o hitler knew not to mess with Enland, England soon showed hitler. Why England, Why don’t they say britainshowed hitler ect.

    • Steven says:

      If I was to say England had 6 Hospices & Scotland had 0 Hospices, which is unfair. Then you could do research & find there were 7 Hospices in England in 1992. I would then be wrong, to say 6 if it were 7 buildings. That’s why I said between 6 & 8 buildings cause I definately knew it wasn’t less than 6 or more than 8 buildings. This is how everyone speaks around world when they can’t remember exact number but can remember around about figure. As said before maybe more education needed, And I don’t lie, I speak from facts. 🙂

      • You can estimate people numbers as they change daily but you cant with buildings as generally they do not change daily..maybe in Scotland but not In England its as easy and as simple as that!
        If I were stating facts like you say you were you should really be provided the basis for these facts.Like I said the reason why we had so many hospices was because of the size of our population the reason you didnt have any was because your government didnt want any!!

      • Steven says:

        We didn’t have a Government at the time I’m stating from 1992. So how could Scotlands government not want 1 ?………..
        When Scotland didn’t have a government at time of England having so many hospices while Scotland has, 0.
        There was a great need for a hospice at time, as Scotland had many dying & needed a care centre where they could be well looked after & cared for in their last days, weeks or months. & as for buildings & citizens numbers, buildings from time to time over a vast area do increase daily, maybe not every day of each year, but buildings are constanly changing their numbers due to population increasing daily & old buildings being replaced with new buildings. And if you check my facts, the basis will begin to show. All my comments are based on fact There is no fiction. I think your just enjoying a good debate with me, mpbaz9710 & you don’t want debate to end. & I have to admit I have enjoyed having great debate with you, 🙂
        But I think we have just about covered most reasons for an Independent Scotland, & I hope you & all of England would still consider yourselfs friends & neighbours of Scotland after Independence “if Scotland votes for it”. Nothing much has to change between our Great nations, A lot of Scotland just wants 100% control of it’s own destiny, We can still all work together with USA & all of Europe ect, for a safer & friendly world.
        An independent Scotland is not to be feared. I’m sure our government will still join with England, Wales, Ireland, Europe & USA ect, when ever we are needed to. Scotlands friendship with England ect.would still continue.

  14. Steven says:

    You said Scotland had 5 million population, this is wrong, which is why you should have followed me, with figures & said between 5 & 6 million if you didn’t know exact figure. It might not be how buildings work or citizens, but it would stop you looking like your liying about the number of Scotlands population. 17 Dec 2012 … The census results show Scotland’s population is at a record high of 5,295,000 to be exact. 🙂

  15. Stephen says:

    There will NEVER be a monetary union between the UK and an independent Scotland, that is just not going to happen. Its only the pro-independence Scottish people that are deluding themselves into thinking such a ludicrous union would be possible. The same way they are deluding themselves into believing they will remain in the European Union (even Spain would veto that request), or that the MOD will remain with permanent bases in Scotland. The UK will never agree to underwrite an independent Scottish economy, something that would be needed in a monetary union. This has already been, and continues to be hinted at by all political parties at Westminster who are currently taking the softly-softly approach. This very point has also been stated quite clearly and categorically by the Welsh First Minister, a person who would have the power of veto. Its about time the pro-independence Scottish people started coming to terms with reality.

  16. Nick Freeman says:

    The SNP just seems to be seeking Devomax in the guise of independence. I am English but grew up in Scotland in Fenwick. I have very fond feelings for Scotland but if they want independence then they go it alone. That’s what the word means. No picking and choosing. It feels like a one sided divorce at the moment and I speak from experience lol. So I would like to see the following happen, England does not interfere with the referendum in Scotland. Let them decide. If they choose to leave then the rest of the UK has the right and should be given a vote on things like currency sharing, EU membership ( probably not needed, Spain will definitely veto). Alex Salmond seems to think there will be no backlash to a yes vote. Sadly I think he is mistaken, I love Scotland but if they vote for independence, I would vote against currency union and EU membership given the chance.

    • I agree. Salmond would be terrified if Scotland was forced to become truly independent. The best outcome for him would be a narrow win for the NO vote; the worst a massive win for the NO camp because that would give Salmond little leverage to get DevoMax.

  17. Stephen says:

    In addition to the Welsh First Minister’s definite veto against a monetary union with an independent Scotland, all the non-Scottish political parties at Westminster (the only ones that matter) have now stated quite clearly that any form of currency sharing is simply not going to happen (thank goodness as it could potentially be disastrous for the rest of the UK). The EU have also stated quite clearly that membership of the EU (and mandatory membership into the Eurozone) is highly unlikely if not impossible for Scotland. Of course Spain would veto any such decision even if it were feasible. Its about time someone reminded Alex Salmond that Scotland has absolutely no say in such matters, none whatsoever. I believe Westminster will start to drop further bomb shells nearer the time of the Scottish vote, clarifying for instance that Scotland will need to create and finance an independent Scottish NHS, an independent Scottish BBC; that the MOD will have to be relocated (they currently employ 50,000 people in Scotland), and that not all the oil platforms are in Scottish waters as defined by international law. The delusional Alex Salmond has stated that the NHS and BBC service will continue in full partnership with the UK. In other words, he wants the Scottish NHS, BBC and the like to be paid for by UK tax payers since the few Scottish tax payers will hardly be able to pay for such services, and the limited oil revenue can only stretch so far. if they could afford such services Scotland would have no need of the 30 billion pound subsidy it currently receives each year from the UK even though they already also receive the lion share of the oil revenue (small in comparison by the way). There should be no UK referendum on any of these matters, firstly because of the many Scottish borne and Scottish sympathisers residing in the UK, and secondly because many people are not able to comprehend the wider or log term dangers involved in a monetary union (the UK economy is much larger than Scotland’s, more than 10 fold larger, so the UK in effect will be underwriting the Scottish economy and provide nothing more than an easy way to access or print new funds). The sooner Alex Salmond and the rest of the SNP realise that an independent Scotland must be a ‘totally’ independent Scotland the better. I for one, being an Englishman, am not willing to finance such a venture or act as guarantor to their fragile and false economy.

  18. Great post and interesting read. I don’t agree about the risks to the pound being all England’s I would have more concern for Scotland being dragged down by what is a basket case economy in England far too reliant on the city of London banks . Scotland will for the time being have oil to back up its currency and that will stabilise belief in the safety of either a currency union or a seperate Scottish pound which is my preference. You will also have to be aware that should Tories get their wish to take the uk out of Europe what little currency that sterling holds will shift to the euro or the slightly less safe dollar as now appears to be the case.

    The greater risks I feel, although I accept my knowledge is probably less than your own, is for Scotland to be hampered by remaining in a currency union with England. For me the euro is more appealing.


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