Alistair Darling
Alistair Darling has his eyes on Alex Salmond's claims that Scotland would be better off after independence (Reuters)

The SNP leader Alex Salmond inhabits a "fantasy" and his blueprint for an independent Scotland is a "work of fiction".

This was former chancellor Alistair Darling's reaction to the Scottish government's White Paper on independence.

Darling, who is leader of the Better Together campaign, has been a vociferous critic of the case for a separate Scotland.

Darling claimed it was a fantasy to say we can leave the UK but still keep all the benefits of UK membership.

The White Paper is thick with false promises and meaningless assertions, he said.

"Nothing has changed as a result of this White Paper. The nationalists have ducked the opportunity to answer the big questions about Scotland's future," said Darling.

He swooped on issues such as pensions, currency and childcare policies.

"We have waited months for this and it has failed to give credible answers on fundamentally important questions. What currency would we use? Who will set our mortgage rates? How much would taxes have to go up? How will we pay pensions and benefits in future?"

"As for the promises, they could deliver on childcare now. Their excuse for not using the power they already have beggars belief - Nicola Sturgeon said they couldn't act now because women would go to work and the tax they pay would go to the UK Treasury.

"That is our treasury, not that of a foreign country," he said.

Undiscovered Country

Darling questioned making such a leap into the unknown when Scotland already has its own parliament and can retain the benefits of the union.

"With so much uncertainty and unanswered questions about the cost of independence, leaving the UK would be a huge leap in the dark - especially when we know that devolution works for Scotland. We can have the best of both worlds - a strong Scottish Parliament with the strength and opportunity of being part of a bigger United Kingdom."

CBI Reaction to White Paper

John Cridland, director-general of the Confederation for British Industry (CBI) said he believed Scottish businesses would be better off being part of the UK.

"Next year's referendum is a matter for the Scottish voters. The outcome will matter hugely to businesses and consumers across the whole of the UK.

"The CBI believes that the nations of the UK are stronger together and that Scotland's business and economic interests will be best served by remaining as part of the UK. Our members have been pressing for responses to many key questions on independence that we have put to the Scottish government and we will study this White Paper closely to decide how far it answers businesses' questions."