‘Scotland will have to pay’ Sturgeon blasted for ‘nonsense’ after pension row flip flop

Nicola Sturgeon brutally skewered over '£250M' blunder

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The First Minister has flip-flopped between arguments over who will foot the bill for pensions if Scotland were to leave the UK. Ms Sturgeon claimed in early February that UK taxpayers would continue to fund Scottish pensions post-independence, before conceding this would be unlikely.

Tony Miklinski, Scottish Conservative councillor for Cupar, Fife, told Express.co.uk he has to “laugh” at the suggestion “because it’s one of the most ridiculous ideas ever”.

He added: “Which foreign country pays the pensions of a neighbouring foreign country?

“It doesn’t exist. It’s absolute nonsense.

“It’s an attempt to throw into the mix more confusing information to allow them to say something that their faithful will follow.”

Mr Miklinski added: “The reality is that there is no pension pot, it comes out of current income, and taxes.

“Scotland will have to pay.”

He described how there would likely “be a negotiation on other areas”, but if the SNP were to “get to the ballot box for a referendum”, they would have to also consider how an independent Scotland would manage job security, mortgaged, council services, as well as pensions.

Having the answers to these questions is “part of the parcel of being part of the United Kingdom”, he added.

He said: “For Nicola Sturgeon and her financial secretary to be claiming that England would be paying Scotland’s pensions is just frankly a lie. “

Kate Forbes, the SNP Finance Secretary, stated the UK would pay the pensions of Scottish OAPs in a post-independence country, adding the system would be “unaffected” after a Yes vote.

Calling SNP’s Westminster boss Ian Blackford the “expert on all things pension”, she pointed to his comments that “commitment to continue to pay pensions rests with the UK Government”.

Nicola Sturgeon then told MSPs that Scottish pensioners would “notice no difference” in their pensions, claiming Scots “would be entitled to the pension contributions they had made to the UK system”.

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This is despite the state pension being paid out from current tax revenues, not draw-downs from a pension pot to drain when workers retire.

Ms Sturgeon called on a comment made by former UK pensions secretary, Steve Webb, back in 2014, who said Scots with “accumulated rights” could be entitled to current UK pension levels.

However, Mr Webb quickly clarified in a letter to MPs that “Scottish people would expect their Government to take on full responsibility for paying pensions to people in Scotland including where liabilities had arisen before independence.”

The SNP leader then did a swift U-turn when asked about how pensions could be paid by the UK when there was no shared pot from which to dole them out.

She conceded the Scottish Government would be responsible for paying pensions, after a week of confusion following her previous remarks.

She confirmed: “On an ongoing basis it will be for the Scottish Government to fund Scottish pensions, but in terms of how we take account of historic assets and liabilities, that will be a matter of negotiation.”

UK pensions secretary Guy Opperman responded to the SNP’s claims by saying UK taxpayers “should not pay for a foreign country’s pension liabilities”.

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