Financial News

  • 29 August 2014, 8:57

Business Leaders Back Scottish Independence

A letter by more than 200 business figures supporting Scottish independence has been published - 24 hours after opponents made a similar pitch.

The document, printed in the Herald newspaper, argues a split from the UK is in Scotland's economic interest and the biggest threat to its economy is a possible exit from the EU, amid fierce debate in Westminster.

Signatories include Sir George Mathewson - the ex-chair of Royal Bank of Scotland - and Stagecoach chairman Sir Brian Souter.

William Hill boss Ralph Topping and Jim McColl - the chairman of Clyde Blowers - also added their names to the list.

Each person signed the letter in a personal capacity.

They said: "We believe independence is in the best interests of Scotland's economy and its people.

"There will be more opportunities for our talented and determined young people to stay and succeed here in Scotland.

"We believe Westminster governments do not, and never will, pay sufficient attention to the interests of Scotland's economy.

"The tax raids on our oil industry and pension funds by Labour and Conservative-led governments are clear examples of a short-term focus rather than a long-term strategy.

"Scottish industry is so often treated as a cash cow rather than a strategically important part of a more prosperous and a fairer society."

The publication aims to counter an open letter sent to the Scotsman a day earlier by 130 other business figures.

That letter warned of substantial risks of casting a Yes vote on September 18, saying the business case had not been made.

It was later suggested by a pro-union supporter, who had approached people about signing, that many business figures opposing independence felt unable to speak up.

Former Scotch Whisky Association chief Gavin Hewitt said about half those he had contacted about Wednesday's letter did not back independence but did not want to make their views public for fear of a backlash from the Scottish National Party.

The No vote argument will be supported by the Prime Minister in a speech to a CBI Scotland business dinner in Glasgow on Thursday night.

David Cameron is expected to suggest that Scotland depends on UK trade for one million jobs.

Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond, who has repeatedly challenged Mr Cameron to a debate, described the Yes letter as "hugely significant" in the run up to the ballot.

He said it was "clear recognition of the massive opportunity that a Yes vote represents for Scotland's economy".

 

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