The SNP offered its economic projections in 2013, based on Scottish Government models, which suggested oil prices would be broadly stable for at least two years. However, the price of crude oil plunged in the second half of 2014, as the independence referendum reached its climax, nearly halving from £86 per barrel in June of that year to £43 in December. The situation worsened in 2016 as prices dipped to as low as £21 before rising back up to £58 in 2018. In 2018, the SNP published a Growth Commission report, with author Andrew Wilson admitting that the original 2014 White Paper had a robust oil price “baked into the numbers” but promised that a future referendum would be fought with North Sea revenues treated “as a proper windfall”.
He said: “I can say with some certainty in terms of our own work that we’ll assume for the purposes of our projections that oil is producing zero revenues and therefore treat any revenues that we get from oil as a proper windfall to be used on intergenerational projects rather than spent on spending today.”
The admission represented a stark contrast from predictions in 2014, leaving other parties in Holyrood furious at Ms Sturgeon and the SNP.
Scottish Labour’s Jackie Baillie MSP demanded that the First Minister and her party apologise for the “£30billion black hole”.
She said: “The SNP told voters that Scotland was on the cusp of a second oil boom, and that oil was simply a bonus when it came to the costs of independence. That was simply a lie.
“Instead, the figures that Nicola Sturgeon campaigned on have a £30billion black hole in them.
“That would have led to turbo-charged austerity on an unprecedented scale, with huge cuts to schools, hospitals and social welfare programmes.
“These figures were baked into the promises the SNP made to some of the poorest communities in our country. It was nothing more than snake oil.”
READ MORE: Nicola Sturgeon challenged by ‘REAL independence’ party
She claimed that “Labour’s only contribution as ever is to do Scotland down”.
Ms Blackman added: “The people of Scotland deserve an apology from Labour – who shamelessly told us voting against independence would protect our EU membership but are now working hand-in-hand with the Tories to drag us off the Brexit cliff edge against our will.
“Tory and Labour plans for a hard Brexit are by far the biggest threat to Scotland’s economy and long-term prosperity – with the potential to cut Scottish GDP by up to 9 per cent, costing £12.7billionn a year and putting around 80,000 jobs on the line.”