Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon urged the U.K. government to transfer more power over finances to her administration in Edinburgh as she focuses on fostering economic growth and reducing youth unemployment.
Speaking on “Bloomberg Surveillance” with Tom Keene and Brendan Greeley, the leader of the Scottish National Party also said she will continue to make the “positive case” for an independent Scotland. The U.K. Parliament in London on Monday debated more autonomy for the country.
“We’re a strong diverse economy,” Sturgeon said. “The whole point of full fiscal autonomy is it gives you all the levers.”
Sturgeon, 44, led her party to its best-ever result in a U.K. election in May, taking 56 out of 59 districts in Scotland to become the third-largest group in the House of Commons. The success came less than eight months after the nationalists lost a referendum on Scottish independence, a campaign that transformed the SNP into a dominant force opposing U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron’s plans for more budget cuts and austerity.
The SNP plans to use its presence in Westminster to challenge for control over Scotland that goes beyond the extra powers on tax and spending set out by the Smith Commission after the referendum. Sturgeon wants the Scottish Parliament to have enough influence to set business taxes, employment law and the minimum wage, she said.
“We were promised that we would get as close to federalism as is possible,” SNP lawmaker Ian Blackford said in Monday’s debate in Parliament. “Why don’t you deliver on what the people of Scotland voted for, which was a powerhouse Parliament with full economic powers?”
The 36 percent decline in the oil price since the Sept. 18 referendum hasn’t deterred the nationalist agenda, Sturgeon said.
“It doesn’t change the fact I believe Scotland would be a successful independent country,” Sturgeon told Bloomberg Television. “Oil is an important part of the Scottish economy, but it’s not the be-all and end-all. We’re lucky we have many strings to our economic bow.”