I had a look back at some of the registered campaigners for the 2014 referendum, when I found this old press release from Working For Scotland. I’ve highlighted the parts that are undoubtedly of particular interest.
Can you tell what’s changed since that press release in 2014?
The important issues for any new independent state have not been answered by the SNP. Scotland’s economy, jobs and the standard of living are on the line. Why throw away current success (even the SNP say Scotland is wealthy) for an uncertain future outside the UK?
Scotland’s EU membership is not assured. I know from experience; I worked on EU matters for some 37 years as a British diplomat. It will be a difficult and lengthy negotiation. That means that Scottish firms, while Scotland waits its turn to become an EU member, will not have free access to the EU single market including the rest of the UK with 500 million consumers, far less enjoy the huge influence and lobbying power of the EU in opening up markets in India, Asia and Latin America.
As a former chief executive of the Scotch Whisky Association, I know how much that EU clout on trade issues matters for the Scotch Whisky industry. Jobs and investment are at stake.
– Gavin Hewitt, Chief Executive, Scotch Whisky Association (2003-2013)
Endura’s sales within Scotland represent around 2% of its global sales, whereas other EC territories – including England, Wales, and Ireland – account for over 70% of its sales. If Scotland were to separate from the UK and if its accession to the EC was then denied – our business model simply wouldn’t work in its current form as the customs process for trading directly with bike stores throughout Europe would be unworkable, just as it is in Norway currently. In those circumstances there would be implications for jobs at Endura within Scotland.
– Jim McFarlane – CEO, Endura
Good business is about getting closer to your trading partners and customers, not the reverse.
Our business is based in London but we have remained registered in Scotland. That works for us because the corporation tax we pay goes into one big UK pot from which Scotland benefits despite the fact that all our clients are in England and Europe. Currency and regulation are all unified, simple and effective. We have a fixed currency agreement in £ and € with a large French car manufacturer and we would not disrupt that. As part of the UK we wouldn’t have to. The UK’s uninterrupted membership of the EU protects and develops our trade in France and in other EU states. Because of these effective, seamless single markets we have never had to move our company registration to London. If Scotland voted to be a foreign country then I’m afraid we would have no choice but to register as a UK company taking the taxes we pay out of the Scottish economy.
– Ghill Donald, CEO, BD Network
In the last few months I have attended two private diners with Alex Salmond and other SNP ministers. Having now had the chance to question the First Minister, what I did not realise was quite how entrenched and narrow minded he is. The SNP is a big spending party, not one made up of sensible pragmatic free-marketeers. The companies I am involved in tend to have a few staff but a significant percentage of their revenue south of the border. They face having a different currency from their largest market and will struggle to remain part of the EU. Interest rates are likely to be higher in Scotland as we don’t have the government borrowing track record of the UK or the scale. We will have to file two sets of accounts, two sets of VAT returns and different HR policies for staff on each side of the border. The costs associated with this bureaucratic duplication will soar and companies remaining in an independent Scotland will have to justify why they would continue to pay it. Shareholders will demand that they leave.
– Angus MacDonald OBE, Chairman, SWR & ICE (investor/mentor of many Scottish Companies)
Coming out of a recession the last thing my company needs at this time is the trading uncertainty that an independent Scotland would bring.
Over 95% of our business is with customers based outside of Scotland and therefore being inside the UK with its strong currency and assured access to the European Union marketplace, is vital to our future prosperity.
Only a NO vote can provide my company with the assurance of stability and continued access to our markets
– Ron Burges, Founder and Executive Chairman, BIP Solutions
[..]There are also two major macro-economic risks which might affect us. The first is currency, where it seems that the two options for an independent Scotland are either a currency union with the rest of the UK, or a separate Scottish currency. Neither of these options are without risk for our business.
The second macro-economic risk relates to the European Union and the regulation of international trade. Operating as we do in over 100 countries, and with equipment being shipped daily around the world from our factory in Dumbarton, the regulation of international trade is important to us; at present, we are largely governed by agreements negotiated by the EU, which has the heft of being one of the largest trading blocs in the world. We also make extensive use of EU and UK trade promotion. There is a risk that an independent Scotland might not be able to continue in membership of the EU, and that could impact the terms under which we export around the world
In summary, if Scotland were to leave the United Kingdom and become an independent country, it would likely burden our UK business with added operating complexity and cost. There is also a risk that the outcome of the issues of currency and membership of the EU will not be helpful to our business. At the very least, if Scotland votes for independence we will face some years of uncertainty and hiatus
– Annual Report, Risk Management, Aggreko Plc
At the time of publishing this report (February 2014), we believe a number of material issues remain uncertain. These include:
• The currency that an independent Scotland would use
• Whether agreement and ratification of an independent Scotland’s membership to the European Union would be achieved by the target date (currently 24 March 2016)
• The shape and role of the monetary system
• The arrangements for financial services regulation and consumer protection in an independent Scotland
• The approach to individual taxation, especially around savings and pensions, as a consequence of any constitutional change.
We will continue to seek clarity on these matters, but uncertainty is likely to remain. In view of this, there are steps we will take based on our analysis of the risks. For example, we have started work to establish additional registered companies to operate outside Scotland, into which we could transfer parts of our operations if it was necessary to do so. This is a precautionary measure to ensure continuity of our businesses’ competitive position and to protect the interests of our stakeholders.
– David Nish, Chief Executive, Standard Life
The chief executive of Shell has stated he would prefer Scotland to remain in the UK because of the risks and uncertainties posed by independence. In a further blow to the Scottish independence campaign, Ben van Beurden said his company valued the continuity and stability of the UK remaining in the European Union and Scotland staying part of the UK. He said the UK’s voice should be “loudly expressed and loudly heard” in the EU.
– Ben van Beurden, Chief Executive, Shell
Total Padel Ltd are based here in Scotland and distribute product, manufactured in Scotland, across the Globe. These global trading relationships are established as a United Kingdom with almost every country in the world, making business transactions efficient and transparent. If Scotland were to separate from this United Kingdom then there would be new trading relationships to establish, tariffs, embargos would be inevitable in at least the short to medium term and these would vary across the globe. Our Business could not wait for a Separate Scotland to establish these relationships and this along with currency uncertainty and tax on EU sales would mean a move to an EC country for Total Padel to maintain the trading relationships we currently enjoy.
Clearly any move will affect our employees and the employees within our supply chain where collective sales outside Scotland are in excess of 75% of turnover.
– Kenny Abbot, Managing Director, Total Padel Ltd
The Scottish government is holding a referendum on 18 September 2014 on the question of Scottish independence from the UK. Although the outcome of the referendum is uncertain, subject to any mitigating factors, uncertainties resulting from an affirmative vote in favour of independence would be likely to significantly impact the Group’s credit ratings and could also impact the fiscal, monetary, legal and regulatory landscape to which the Group is subject. Were Scotland to become independent, it may also affect Scotland’s status in the EU. The occurrence of any of the impacts above could significantly impact the Group’s costs and would have a material adverse effect on the Group’s business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects.
– Interim Results Statement, 2014, The Royal Bank of Scotland Group plc
Shareholders also avoided questions on Scottish independence, an issue which was tackled in Sir Philip’s opening address. Under European rules, banks have to be domiciled in the member state where they conduct most of their business; there has been increasing speculation that the Scottish-based bank, which employs 12,000 people in Scotland, would have to relocate to London if the Scots were to vote Yes in September. Sir Philip stressed that RBS was taking a neutral approach and was not going to choose sides in the debate over Scotland’s future. But he suggested that he, and other senior figures, had reservations about a Yes vote. “Like many other companies, we are having to consider the possible business implications of a Yes vote and our response,” he said.
– Sir Philip Hampton, Chairman, RBS, extracted from report of RBS AGM June 2014
For all those who might be under the impression that Scotland’s EU membership was not a major factor in the referendum campaign, I ask you: if it wasn’t, then why did the above executives, chairpeople, and organisations seem to think it was?
But then, not all the businessfolk mention the EU:
For businesses, the conclusions seem clear: the costs of independence are guaranteed but the benefits are uncertain. That has the potential to make Scotland less competitive, not more.
– Keith Cochrane, Chief Executive, Weir Group PLC
The Confederation of Shipbuilding and Engineering Unions, officials and senior shop stewards of five main companies with defence related manufacture and deployment operations in Scotland; employing many thousands of Trade Union members seek firm answers from the Scottish Government on the possible impact of a Yes vote on job retention, skill preservation and investment from a UK perspective in a sector that is heavily dependent on present and future UK MOD orders. We do this because our members deserve to be able to make an informed judgement on what it could mean for their jobs and their industry come 18th September.
– Kenny Jordan, Secretary, UNITE and CSEU
The United Kingdom is one of the world’s great economic success stories. I am convinced that the future opportunities for Scotland within the UK are even greater. Of the many factors that have supported our economic success, one of the most important – Sterling – is jeopardised by the Yes campaign’s ill-defined and gallus ‘…it’ll be alright on the night…’ ideas about a currency union. Sterling is used every day in billions of Pounds worth of transactions across the length and breadth of the UK and beyond, from corner shops to global companies. It has withstood colossal challenges in the past few years. Blithe assertions that that a currency union will be easily arranged after a Yes vote stand in sharp contradiction to the recent experience of the Eurozone. Scotland should keep Sterling and so Scotland should remain in the UK.
– Alan McFarlane, Senior Partner, Dundas Partners LLP
Our Board believes that a successful Scotland, as part of the United Kingdom, is important for UK business and we have seen no factual evidence that another independent government infrastructure would provide any significant advantages. In addition the various areas of uncertainty surrounding the independence campaign are unhelpful and indeed detrimental to our business planning and expansion.
– Iain Napier, Non Executive chairman, John Menzies PLC
I am very proud to be Scottish but I am equally proud to work with UK companies here in Scotland. My own trade organisation is the NICEIC, a UK regulatory body with whom we are registered in order to be able to work with UK based companies with retail outlets in Scotland. It works very well. If there was a Yes vote then what would happen to my membership of that UK regulatory body? Would I still be able to work for big UK companies here in Scotland or would these companies insist on working with UK companies registered with the UK based NICEIC? Alex Salmond claims he speaks for Scotland. Well, will he speak to Scottish contractors like me to explain how my trade would be protected after a Yes vote?
– Stuart Watt, Owner, N Watt & Son
I make no apologies for the fact that I have been inspired to speak out in this debate because, along with my fellow shareholders, we have carefully considered and researched the impact that an independent Scotland would have on our business and concluded it would be “a bad thing” for us and, by extension, our Scottish employees. Over 90% of our sales are to the rest of the UK; if that becomes export business we would clearly have to reconsider our central warehousing location. I know many similar businesses feel the same way but are afraid to speak up for fear of a Nationalist backlash; in our case we have concluded that we have a moral duty to share our analysis with our employees ahead of the referendum.
– Kevin Hague, founder and CEO, M8 Group
It is our belief that if we separated from the UK then the country would take years to stabilise. We suspect that external trade with the UK would suffer and that investment would dramatically reduce for businesses such as ours in Scotland. Against this backdrop, we would suggest that there would be inadequate development to sustain our workload at the current levels.
– W. Mark Reid, Managing Director, Reid Roof Ltd
I’ve set up a number of businesses here because our country has a great deal to offer. Clearly, our people, creativity, business support infrastructure and partnerships with the rest of the world makes Scotland a great place to do business. This clarity creates confidence to invest and investment is the lifeblood of business. The Yes vote has had years to figure it all out and make it clear, but have failed to do so. I’m not confident that a leap of faith that they will, is a good business proposition. So thanks, but No thanks.
– Marcus Brook, CEO, Apps Central Ltd
Although there’s a Stow in Scotland, Scotts of Stow is based in Stow-on-the-Wold in Gloucestershire, England. Nevertheless, we have over one million customers registered to Scottish addresses and we are regular advertisers in the Scotsman, the Glasgow Herald and other Scottish newspapers and magazines. Like every other retailer, I am concerned that a YES vote could increase the cost of doing business in Scotland. Even if we assume that there would be no immediate import tariff barriers erected and that there would be no onerous requirements for export documentation, I know that we would be obliged to pay more for shipping parcels to Scotland. The carriers already insist that we pay a supplement for parcel delivery to the Highlands and Islands and we have to pass these costs on. We already pay supplementary charges for delivery of parcels to Northern and Southern Ireland. I am sure that parcel carriers would relish to opportunity to charge more for shipment to an independent Scotland. I have absolutely no doubt that postage costs for letters would rise too.
If Scotland were to vote to separate from the rest of the UK, Royal Mail would be free to charge cost-reflective pricing. At present the universal service obligation requires Royal Mail to subsidise prices for deliveries of mail to Scotland. I would expect to see a substantial hike in the price of letter postage to Scotland in the wake of a Yes vote. At Scotts of Stow, we are all hoping and trusting that Scots will choose to stay with the Union. I’ve looked carefully at the economic numbers, and am quietly confident that there are too many canny Scots out there who can see what I can see – that Scotland would be putting itself at a major financial disadvantage if it were to vote for independence. There are 350 of us Scotties in Gloucestershire, including many Scots, who believe that the only positive vote in September is going to be NO.
Nigel Swabey, Chairman, Scotts & Co
The Scottish Government is in complete denial over the question of post-separation currency, and it beggars belief that this key issue will remain unresolved as Scottish voters go to the polls in September. Scottish companies are only now recovering from the aftershock of recession and desperately require an extended period of stability to rebuild confidence and bruised balance sheets. The Yes campaign is treating Scottish business with contempt by avoiding the issue on this most basic of trading requirements. I have no doubt that there will be a massive movement of capital out of Edinburgh towards London in the 18 months between a Yes vote and the secession of Scotland from the UK, as firms act to protect their assets and shareholders.
Derek Miller, Director, Scope Bathrooms
Mr Hamilton said he is “very concerned” about the implications a Yes vote could have on the company, which employs 200 at its manufacturing site in Blantyre. While Daysoft enjoys a “great relationship” with Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), he has scheduled talks with a bank based in England with a view to switching before the poll on September 18. Mr Hamilton is frustrated the cost of separating Scotland from the UK has not been fully detailed. And he is unhappy RBS cannot guarantee his firm’s deposit will be underwritten by the Bank of England in light of a Yes vote.
– Ron Hamilton, Founder, Daysoft
The decision on independence from the UK is a matter for the people of Scotland. However, BAE Systems has significant interests and employees in Scotland, and it is clear that continued union offers greater certainty and stability for our business.
– Ian King, Chief Executive, BAE Systems, Extracted from Chief Executive’s Review in Annual Report
The chief executive of BP has become the most senior business leader yet to step into the Scottish independence debate by saying he did not want to see Scotland “drifting away” from the UK. Bob Dudley claimed that “all businesses have a concern” about the referendum and his company would almost certainly face higher costs amid currency uncertainty that would not help future investment.
– Bob Dudley, Chief Executive, BP, quoted in the Guardian, 04/02/14
Babcock officials briefed the joint trades unions at Rosyth on their view of what could happen if the Scottish public vote for independence in the referendum, which will be held on 18 September. A Babcock spokesperson said: “As a company with a large footprint in Scotland, the possible changes to Scotland’s financial and regulatory environment following a vote from independence create additional risk and uncertainty for our business.” “That is why – as part of a long tradition of such engagement – Babcock has begun to discuss these risks and uncertainties with our local workforces.” Details of Babcock’s staff briefings were made public by the Rosyth Dockyard Industrial Joint Council – which includes the Unite, GMB and Ucatt unions. The council said the briefings included concerns that it was “unlikely” the dock would be able to carry out Royal Navy work.
– Joint TU Briefing & Annual Report, Babcock, eextracted from Press Report following management briefing of Joint Unions
2pure and NinePointNine manage and distribute specialist global sports brands within the UK. 90% of our customers and 100% of our supply chain are located outside of Scotland. Our brands are concerned about the effect a yes vote will have on our business, which is a concern for us. Whatever happens we have a clear strategy for 2pure and Nine Point Nine and part of our vision is to be adaptable, nimble and flexible, read into that what you wish.
As it stands, there is no clear business plan or strategy that demonstrates a sustainable improvement to the quality of life for the Scottish population, now or for future generations. We are hugely patriotic, proud to be Scottish, but more so, we feel privileged to be British.
– George Bowie, Managing Director, 2Pure Ltd & 9point9 Ltd
We are stronger and better together as part of a successful 300 year old union with the rest of the UK. We enjoy many benefits including a home market of over 60 million customers, the flexibility of branding ourselves as Scottish or British as well as having our own effective Scottish Parliament set in the safety and security of the UK.
We need to make doing business easier, create an environment that encourages entrepreneurship and business growth thereby enabling us to grow and offer more jobs. We need our politicians to work harder, use more of the powers we have giving us security, stability and growth.
– Ruth McKay, Managing Director, UNIQ Marketing
In response to an increasing number of questions from Barrhead Travel employees regarding my views on the referendum, I decided to share my personal opinion which is that independence would not be good for Scotland, its businesses or its consumers. One of my main concerns is that of the financial protection of the Scottish travelling public which would be under threat in an independent Scotland. Second to that is the uncertainty of cross border trading which I believe will be impacted negatively, a concern especially for businesses with interests outside of Scotland. The opinions expressed are my own and not those of the company. Just as I have the right to express my own opinion, I respect that is true of everyone in Scotland, including the 800 employees of Barrhead Travel who will make their own views clear throughout the democratic process.
Bill Munro – Founder, Barrhead Travel, extracted from Press Reports
I am opposed to independence for Scotland. I was born in Perth , I was educated in Scotland and having helped to build one successful retail business in Scotland, I am now building several more businesses in Scotland. I am not a politician, I am a fiercely proud Scot. I am a patriot not a nationalist. I do not for a minute think we cannot be independent, I simply believe that our future is better within the UK. A best of both worlds.
– David Sands, Managing Director, Alligin Properties Ltd
I set up my own business in Scotland a couple of years ago. I would like to expand the business in due course, but I worry that if Scotland separates from the rest of the UK, this will harm businesses of all sizes.
The SNP has failed to make a convincing business case for separation. Alex Salmond and his followers have not provided direct answers to the basic questions that businesses have asked, preferring unfunded promises instead.
The uncertainty of the referendum is already damaging business in Scotland. As business people, we don’t want to take a leap of faith into uncertainty, when the UK is working well for us now. We need a resounding ‘No’ vote to restore confidence and stability to Scottish business.
– Alastair Cameron, Managing Director, Braeburn Consulting
Usdaw has reached its policy stance, not by clinging to a piece of ideology but by considering what is in the best interests of the people of Scotland and our members; by carefully considering the evidence for and against independence and examining which constitutional arrangement will be more likely to provide economic prosperity and improve the overall well-being of Usdaw members and their families. The UK is one of the world’s oldest and most successful single market economies and by being part of it Scotland benefits from the freedom of movement in goods, services, people and capital. An independent Scotland would lose the stability and credibility built up over the last 300 years. Just like two out of every three Scots – Usdaw believes that Scotland can choose to have the best of both worlds – by retaining the Scottish Parliament which legislates for many of the things that affect Scots’ lives everyday without losing any of the strength and security of the UK. Usdaw accepts that Scotland could survive as an independent nation, however Usdaw believes that Scotland is stronger as part of the UK and that the UK is stronger with Scotland as a partner. Usdaw does not accept that the lives of our members will be improved if Scotland becomes independent, and this is why we are joining with other like-minded organisations and people in the Better Together Campaign to make a positive and strong case for Scotland remaining part of the UK family.
– Campaign Statement – Official Site, The Union of Shop, Distributive & Allied Workers
Extracted from USDAW website
The impact of a ‘yes’ vote in favour of Scottish independence is uncertain. The outcome could have a material impact on compliance costs, the tax position, and cost of funding for the Group.
– Annual Report – Risk Statement, Lloyds Banking Group, Extracted from Annual Report
I’m 100 per cent against, as are most people I mix with – it’s completely unnecessary. If we were to go independent it would definitely have negative repercussions. All our customers are UK-based and for them we would become a foreign country. We have a large workforce of around 700 and it would not be good news for them. I can’t see the sense in it.
– Jim Stewart – Managing Director, Stewarts of Tayside, extracted from Press Statement
Sir Ian, who employs 2,600 people in Scotland in B&Q stores and another 400 in its Screwfix shops, said the “trading environment” of an independent Scotland would influence his company’s approach. He added that plans for 23 new Screwfix shops had already been put on hold.
“It [independence] would put a pause on everything [..] If we have differences on VAT, currency, it just puts everything into hibernation as we try to figure out what it will mean [..] Because Scotland is such an important part of B&Q, there’s no way we’re going to let it go, but it would be more complicated, probably more costly and less likely to attract investment, given we could invest in 11 other countries around the world.”
– Ian Cheshire – CEO, Kingfisher plc (owner of B&Q) extracted from Press Reports
“We are recommending a ‘no’ vote to our Scottish members in September’s Scottish Independence Referendum. This decision is based on a need for unity against austerity and the barrage of cuts from the Coalition Government and the SNP in Scotland. “This is an extremely important constitutional debate and it is crucial that as a trade union we are able to assist our members on the impact this will have on the Scottish economy and that of the rest of the UK. The majority of our members support a ‘no’ vote as we found when conducting polls and holding forums. A ‘no’ vote would be in the best interests of our members.”
CWU deputy general secretary Andy Kerr said:”We believe that Scottish independence would have a profound effect on the companies we work with. Royal Mail, Post Office Ltd and BT all have extensive networks operating in Scotland and an independent Scotland would put untold pressure on these companies and the jobs of our members. “It’s not clear what the implications would be on Royal Mail’s Universal Service Obligation in an independent Scotland, the pension schemes our members are enrolled in or how it would affect the roll-out of broadband services to the inaccessible rural communities in Scotland. Independence would have a significant impact on the ability of these companies to invest in their networks.”
– Billy Hayes – General Secretary, Communication Workers Union, extracted from press release
With a large percentage of vegetable crops grown in Scotland destined for the English market, it’s hard to see what the benefits of independence would be for companies with production bases in Scotland. There is a distinct lack of clarity in how cross-border trade would work and this brings uncertainty, which is rarely a healthy thing.
– Angus Armstrong, Chief Executive, Greenvale AP, extracted from Press Statements
At this late stage of proceedings there is still a high level of uncertainty on key economic issues such as sterling and oil revenue, which means it is nigh on impossible to say that independence will be good news for the Scottish economy. In addition, there are doubts as to whether whether spending plans are prudent. Is Scotland going to have crippling debt issues? The absence of reassuring answers is disturbing, or even frightening.
– Neil Wilson, CEO and Founder, Stanton House
We don’t actually think Scotland should be independent. We’ll be so glad to get back to normal when it’s all over and hopefully the voters will vote for no
– Paula Bell, Finance Director, John Menzies, extracted from The Scotsman
A simple question to the above: given what we’ve seen in the 26 months since the 2014 referendum, would you say the prospect of Scotland outside the EU but in the UK is more, less, or equally “costly,” “uncertain,” “unhelpful,” or “indeed detrimental” compared to Scotland outside the UK but in the EU? Do you feel the UK Government has given you the “firm answers” to let you and your workers make “an informed judgement,” and sufficiently “explained how your trade was to be protected,” rather than being “ill-defined” or “gallus?” How would you compare the Scottish Government’s White Paper to the UK Government’s equivalent document?
Sorry things didn’t get back to normal, Ms Bell, but hey, you guys got what you wanted, didn’t you? Scotland didn’t become independent, and none of the bad things you thought would happen happened at all. All the uncertainty of independence over and done with. The strength and security of the UK came to save the day, and nothing was uncertain ever again.