Scotland’s Salmond Says Osborne ‘Thinks He Owns’ Sterling

Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond said U.K. Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne “seems to think he owns” the pound.

Osborne refused to say yesterday whether an independent Scotland would be allowed to keep the currency, saying only in an interview with ITV News that Salmond wants to join the euro. The ruling Scottish National Party said in 2009 it would join the euro when economic conditions are right, subject to a referendum.

“George Osborne has been Chancellor for 18 or 20 months, or so, but he seems to think he now owns sterling,” Salmond said in an interview with Dublin-based RTE Radio today. “The Bank of England was founded by a Scot. There were Scottish bank notes before the Bank of England was founded.”

“Many countries, as they’ve become independent from London over the years, have used sterling. Australia, for example, after they became independent, used sterling.”

The U.K. may not be able to stop Scotland using sterling if it became independent, the Scotsman said, citing unidentified Treasury officials. Banks in an independent Scotland might no longer be able to print their own banknotes, the paper said.

The Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc, Bank of Scotland, a unit of Lloyds Banking Group Plc, and Clydesdale Bank, a unit of National Australia Bank Ltd. all have the right to print their own bank notes.

Salmond, whose Scottish National Party won an overall majority in the Scottish parliamentary elections last May, plans to hold a referendum on independence in the second half of 2014. Prime Minister David Cameron and the opposition parties in Scotland want it to be held earlier.

The two sides are also in dispute over what questions should be included on the ballot paper, who should be allowed to vote and who should supervise the referendum.

To contact the reporters on this story: Joe Brennan in Dublin at jbrennan29@bloomberg.net; Peter Woodifield in Edinburgh at pwoodifield@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Dara Doyle at ddoyle1@bloomberg.net; Colin Keatinge at ckeatinge@bloomberg.net

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