Scores of Scottish bosses take aim at Yes vote's business case

27 August 2014 -


More than 100 senior leaders representing 130 firms pen open letter questioning whether Independence is the right fit for Scotland’s private sector

Matt Packer

A group of top business leaders with links to 130 companies has issued an open letter to express doubt over the business case for a Yes vote in the forthcoming Scottish referendum.

The 106 managers, whose firms range across every major business sector, have taken aim at Independence just weeks after Edinburgh-based insurance and pensions outfit Standard Life cited a host of “unclarified or unresolved” issues at the heart of the Yes campaign as bona-fide business risks. The firm also said that it has a contingency plan in place to move its headquarters south of the border, in the event Scottish voters choose to separate from the United Kingdom.

Just two days ago, entrepreneur Michelle Mone – the driving force behind the Ultimo bra brand – also said she would resituate the base of her business MJM International if Independence goes ahead.

Published in today’s edition of The Scotsman, the open letter is signed by the likes of Baxters Food Group executive chair Audrey Baxter, Adelphi Distillery chairman Keith Falconer, Harris Tweed Hebrides chief executive Ian Angus MacKenzie and Scotch Whisky Association former chief executive Gavin Hewitt. They argue: “Our economic ties inside the United Kingdom are very close and support almost one million Scottish jobs. The rest of the UK is Scotland’s biggest market by far. As job creators, we have looked carefully at the arguments made by both sides of the debate.

“Our conclusion is that the business case for independence has not been made. Uncertainty surrounds a number of vital issues, including currency, regulation, tax, pensions, EU membership and support for our exports around the world – and uncertainty is bad for business.”

The letter added: “Today, Scotland’s economy is growing. We are attracting record investment and the employment rate is high. We should be proud that Scotland is a great place to build businesses and create jobs – success that has been achieved as an integral part of the United Kingdom. The United Kingdom gives business the strong platform we must have to invest in jobs and industry. By all continuing to work together, we can keep Scotland flourishing.”

The letter has arrived on the heels of the latest televised debate on the Independence question, from which Yes campaign leader and Scottish first minister Alex Salmond was widely thought to have emerged victorious.


One day after the letter’s publication, pro-Independence bosses weighed in with an open statement of their own. Representing 200 firms with a total 50,000 employees, these Yes-vote managers wrote to rival newspaper The Herald to say:

“We are involved in business and entrepreneurship at different levels in Scotland and around the world. We believe independence is in the best interests of Scotland’s economy and its people.

“An independent Scotland will recognise entrepreneurs [both] small and large as the real wealth and job creators of the nation’s economic future. It will encourage a culture in which innovation, endeavour and enterprise are nurtured. It will place power in the hands of Scotland's people to channel the huge resources of our country in the interests of those who live and work here.”

Image of “No Thanks” placard courtesy of Better Together

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