Business leaders tell Scots to vote no in independence referendum

Alistair Darling

More than 120 business leaders have urged Scotland to vote no in next month's referendum, saying the economic case for independence has not been sufficiently made.

In an open letter published in the Scotsman newspaper, they write: "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."

Signatories include HSBC chairman Douglas Flint and Co-operative Bank CEO Niall Booker, as well as dozens of Scottish CEOs from business ranging from fish and whisky to technology and finance.

The letter says: "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.

"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."

Others signatories include Andrew Mackenzie, chief executive of the mining company, BHP Billiton; Ian Curle, the chief executive of Edrington, which owns the whisky brands the Macallan and the Famous Grouse; Sir John Grant of BG Group; and Simon Thomson, chief executive of Cairn Energy.

The letter was organised by Keith Cochrane of engineering firm Weir Group, which said that no political organisations had been involved.

The call by business leaders comes after first minister Alex Salmond said the yes campaign had "its tails up". But both sides have sent letters to voters making contradictory claims about the impact independence could have on Scotland's economy. The no campaign has claimed that independence would make food more expensive in supermarkets and add £1,300 to the average mortgage in Scotland.

Flint has previously spoken out against independence, warning that it would be "a giant step into economic uncertainty," and that introducing its own currency would be "an enormous challenge".

However, former Royal Bank of Scotland chairman Sir George Mathewson, has claimed that financial services in Scotland would flourish with independence. "There is nothing to suggest that being part of a smaller country hinders a financial services industry," he said.

"Switzerland, for example, has – in Geneva and Zurich – not one, but two of the world's top 10 financial centres. Singapore, with five million people, is ranked fourth. Investment is an increasingly global business, where success depends much more on people than on borders."

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article was written by Martin Williams, for theguardian.com on Wednesday 27th August 2014 00.07 Europe/London

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