England ran a massive trade deficit in 2014 and 2015 too. Scotland had an even greater surplus in those years. Who knows how much we’ve been subsidising the UK balance of payments and reducing debt over the years?


In 2016, it was:

£ Deficit/Surplus in 2016

England           -120 038 000 000

Wales              – 55 000 000

Scotland          +2 148 000 ooo

N Ireland         – 4 039 000 000


In 2015, it was:

£ Deficit/Surplus in 2015

England           -110 358 000 000

Wales              – 1 600 000 000

Scotland          +4 124 000 000

N Ireland         – 2 311 00 000


In 2014, it was:

£ Deficit/Surplus in 2014

England           -113 877 000 000

Wales              – 2 544 000 000

Scotland          +7 917 000 000

N Ireland         – 2 106 000 000

I can’t trace the equivalent data for before 2014 but there looks like a wee trend there with the Scottish trade surplus growing as you go further back. It looks like England’s trade deficit will have cost us billions and consequently lumbered us with the massive debts the austerity programme was supposed to clear but could not. I can’t see why we’d leave the Union owing them any share of the UK debt whatsoever when we clearly didn’t incur it.



15 thoughts on “England ran a massive trade deficit in 2014 and 2015 too. Scotland had an even greater surplus in those years. Who knows how much we’ve been subsidising the UK balance of payments and reducing debt over the years?

  1. johnrobertson834 August 12, 2017 / 5:23 pm

    My inability to grasp the sheer mind-blowing scale of debt reminds me of Irish comedian Tommy Tiernan trying to articulate the same: Watch especially his shriek for the US debt.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Brian McGowan August 12, 2017 / 5:23 pm

    This is extraordinary… a hoax, a windup?
    Forgive me Prof John, by why is this info not getting wider recognition?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Brian McGowan August 13, 2017 / 8:24 am

      A rhetorical question. I know from reading your stuff over the years that you have rock solid sources. It’s just…I don’t know, such an ENORMOUS piece of newsfact, that it should be getting shouted from the rooftops. The MSM won’t do that, so why not the SNP?
      ps I frequently write to the BBC, usually to make an honest complaint. Without exception, I have received a high handed put me down in reply. Or ridiculous responses like telling me that mentioning Ireland and Wales on the UK news is the same as mentioning Scotland. Or that reporters sometimes forget where they are and say “Britain” or “The UK” when they mean England (eg crises in NHS, House building etc).


      • johnrobertson834 August 13, 2017 / 5:37 pm

        Yes indeed. I have to admit, I’ve given up on the mainstream media. Their audiences are shrinking so I console myself they matter less and less.


  3. johnrobertson834 August 12, 2017 / 8:56 pm

    Must be part of it but some of the oil is in English waters esp now they’re just off the Fife coast.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Contrary August 13, 2017 / 3:28 pm

    Curious, and curiouser,,,

    I find it odd that HMRC should change their methodology now, and back-date it a couple of years (I suspect the previous years, before 2014, will not be ‘comparable’, because this is the new trend for presenting statistics, and they are likely to be immensely more favourable to Scotland – after all, when did the oil crash occur?).

    I find it odd that the national statistics have released this information. (It is official ukgov figures, and is published only with approval, I assume).

    I can’t think why they would do this. Possibly because EU law is being put in place for all countries to put their books in order – though I considered this one reason why the gov’t wanted out of the EU (so they didn’t have to) – but maybe it is a requirement here and now? Or something to do with Brexit? – make the UK look like beggars so they won’t charge us as much for the exit? (A weak argument, because there is no reason to update regional methodology for this).

    It has crossed my mind that Richard Murphy may have more influence than I would have thought, in pointing out the flaws in HMRC accounting, they say, oops, better fix that? I half expected him to get fully stomped on, reputation in tatters and any less than saintly moral vagaries to be exposed to the media grinding machine, but this hasn’t happened. Good for him, but strange. But I can’t judge on whether this gives him influence within civil servant circles.

    Let’s consider for a moment, that these figures above are for when oil is nigh-on worthless (apparently), and only a portion of those exports are included, think how much surplus there would be when oil was swinging and on a high, and we included all the oil fields in Scotland’s export figures, along with all the companies working in the industry – I suggest that the surplus would be much much greater.

    On reading the national statistics document – I haven’t analysed it fully, just skimmed it – there are a few interesting points: one is that tourism figures have been excluded (too difficult to work out or something), and we have seen this to be a booming industry just now & something Scotland normally relies heavily on. There are a lot of fudges in there too, e.g. if a company asks their taxes to be kept secret, HMRC may oblige – how much these many and varied policies affect the numbers I can’t know. Another main point that was interesting is that arms sales are not included (‘government business’).

    Now, I suspect arms sales are mostly exports, and worth an awful lot of money, an awful lot, so I suspect that the England deficit isn’t that poor. But then, is there not some manufacture of arms in Scotland, so maybe it would have increased our export figures as well? Buying trident probably does not show up for this past year.

    Part of the methodology change for the regional figures was that HMRC now count the region of origin for export on where the majority of workers are, not the head office. (Lots of difficult-to-understand fudges on this one too). So, this benefits regions that have a manufacturing base, and likely includes a lot of oil companies in Scotland. Any crude oil whisked directly abroad from the rigs is not included in the export figures (not taxed?).

    So, even though we are all shocked that the uk government has produced numbers that make it look as though Scotland is doing a wee bit better than the rest of the UK, I strongly suspect we are ACTUALLY doing 50 times as well (made up number based on no facts whatsoever!). Excluding tourism and energy (forgot to mention that one!), and still fudging around with the oil revenues means that our exports will show lower that actuality. Purely internal to uk movement of goods is excluded as well. Excluding energy is an interesting one as well (some kind of excuse on only grid providers could have been included, not the sources), but then if we were only exporting to rUK it wouldn’t be included anyway – I understand the difficulties of knowing where any energy goes specifically after being put into the grid from a region, but then can’t you proportionally divvy it up, and,,,? sigh.

    Of course, HMRC can now claim they have included for oil (although barely) and, with the UK gov’t desperately trying to destroy the oil industry as quickly as possible (probably only temporarily? I’m sure the speed with which T. May skipped over to Saudi after getting into office can tell us where they are investing their money now – arms), the establishment can tell us that this small boon will soon run out for us. I do wonder what the figures were even 10 years ago? How much has the uk government frittered away really? Trillions at least. You have to wonder why the uk is in debt and why we have to put up with austerity,,, I for one would not feel quite so bitter about this stolen resource if the profits had been used wisely to benefit the whole of the islands, but it hasn’t, it has been wasted.

    I believe that, maybe, these regional figures are being produced now like this because they are the poorest Scotland has had in decades (we can never know). The last time figures were calculated separately for Scotland was in, what, 1920? (Probably read that on WoS?) and then we were fair putting in more than our fair share,,, strange how they stopped that eh. And our poorest performance looks like it much better than the rest of he uk.

    I am musing out loud here to try and find some reasoning, I haven’t read any other analyses (yet), so be gentle with any criticism 🙂


    • johnrobertson834 August 13, 2017 / 5:34 pm

      Fantastic, thanks for these additions. I do hope later readers see them.


  5. Contrary August 13, 2017 / 4:17 pm

    Of course, the first page of the national stats document has the summary essentially saying ‘value of exports has gone up and value of imports has gone up’ in England (and the rest of the U.K.),,, so has this been published, with new methodology and all, just to show how WELL the uk is doing, despite Brexit? Regardless of the fact that imports outstrip exports, they are both UP, hurrah! Trade is booming! Is this to increase business confidence & stop everyone signing up to move to different EU countries?

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Contrary August 13, 2017 / 5:08 pm

    I have the regional trade stats for energy a bit muddled above (maybe from OTS ?) here is what the national stats office says:

    “11. For specific energy goods only, trade is allocated to the region where the goods enter or leave the UK rather than the location / employment of the business doing the trade. This is because HMRC receives details of the trade in these goods directly from grid operators rather than the business. The goods concerned are Electrical energy, Natural Gas in a gaseous state and Crude Oil exported directly from offshore oil rigs. Crude Oil imported to the UK and exported from terminals is still allocated to the region of the business.”

    Note that the only part of ENERGY (all that renewable wind, wave etc electricity being churned out in Scotland,,,), including crude oil, Likely being allocated to Scotland is the crude that comes ashore, and only where the company is based here.

    So, energy isn’t excluded, it goes to whoever has the fattest cable taking it abroad (not Scotland I’d guess). Big fat cable being laid between Scotland and Norway coming to an energy exporter near you very soon though! Norway has apparently got a ton of very strict environmentally friendly laws, they likely wouldn’t take our power if it wasn’t all from renewables,,,

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Contrary August 13, 2017 / 5:54 pm

    Click to access RTS_Q4.pdf

    That should be the stats for 2012 / 2013, and seems to show similar surplus in Scotland, +5 and +6 billion respectively, and deficit in England – of approx. 120 billion (lots of rounding there!). Interestingly, Wales was in surplus (steel industry?) by +5 and +7 billion in those years respectively.

    So we have had these good numbers all along, it was just never good enough for the media, and there is no way they are including oil, tourism, and energy for us in those numbers.


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