Financial News

  • 7 May 2014, 16:53

Scots Independence: Rest Of UK Firms Want Union

An overwhelming majority of businesses in England, Wales and Northern Ireland say that Scotland should remain part of the UK, according to a survey for the British Chambers of Commerce.

The BCC, which itself remains impartial in the debate, surveyed close to 2,500 of its members, and whilst 11% said Scotland should vote yes, some 85% preferred the union to remain.

Two thirds said no new opportunities would arise in the event of a 'Yes' vote, and just over a third, 35%, said a formal currency union, a key ambition of the SNP-led campaign, would be in the best interests of the UK as a whole.

The BCC's director general John Longworth said: "Business opinion across the United Kingdom on the Scottish independence debate is far from unanimous. That's only logical, as businesses have different interests, and different views on our complex history of economic and political union.

"In the event of a 'Yes' vote, cross-border trading and currency arrangements loom large in businesses' thinking. If Scotland votes 'no', constitutional questions remain around the devolution of power and the distribution of public funding between nations."

The poll has been seized upon by those campaigning for a 'No' vote, as with a recent report from credit ratings agency Moody's which said an independent Scotland would find itself downgraded.

Edinburgh South Labour MP and Shadow Business Minister Ian Murray said: "This survey confirms what some of Scotland's largest employers like Standard Life, RBS and Shell have made clear. Breaking up the UK would create huge risks and cost jobs in Scotland.

"The majority of businesses in the rest of the UK do not support a currency union. It would be bad for Scotland and bad for the rest of the UK. That's why it is off the table.

"What people in Scotland need from the nationalists is some honesty about what would replace the pound if we leave the UK. Would we rush to adopt the euro or would we set up a separate Scottish currency? The idea that Scots can go to the polls blind on this fundamental issue isn't credible."

Yet there is hardly unanimity north of the border either - nor an overwhelming sense of fear that cross-border trade would come to a juddering halt.

Many here expect business to continue if not entirely as normal then with significant benefits in the longer term.

Tony Banks, chairman of Business for Scotland, a pro-independence campaign group with close to two thousand members said: "This is a survey that of course doesn't include Scottish businesses who have a rather different perception.

"Scottish independence offers real advantages to everyone, not only in Scotland but across our shared markets in Europe - that independence doesn't equal isolation and businesses here are well aware of the opportunities they can gain.

"Even the Scottish Chambers of Commerce survey issued last week conceded that 53% of its members see the opportunities that independence could bring."

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