SCOTS face the prospect of higher shop prices, mortgages, credit card bills and flights if the UK votes to leave the EU, the head of one of the country’s biggest banks has warned.
And Edinburgh’s status as a major financial centre would be thrown into jeopardy outside Europe, according to Virgin Money chief executive Jayne-Anne Gadhia.
She was speaking in Edinburgh yesterday at the launch of Scotland Stronger in Europe, where campaign chiefs said that Scottish votes could “make the difference” to the UK staying in Europe.
New figures published yesterday showed that Britain’s trade deficit has grown to £13.3 billion – its biggest since the financial meltdown of 2008. Analysts said the figures provided fresh evidence that the UK economy is stalling, with one describing them as “truly horrible”.
Ms Gadhia said: “The economy will make the ultimate difference to peoples’ decision how to vote because this will affect the pound in peoples’ pocket.
“It will mean that when you’re in Europe and want to use a mobile phone you’re going to have to pay more, it will put the cost of flights up, it will put up prices in the shop, it will increase mortgage and credit card rates.
“At the end of the day it’s that sort of, ‘How does it affect me’ that’s really important.
“People will definitely be very materially worse off out of Europe.”
She warned it would cost £3,000 a year for families if Britain was outside the European Union, against the £1 a day costs of remaining in the EU.
She also warned that the UK’s status as a financial centre of excellence – which includes a number of Edinburgh-based institutions such as Royal Bank of Scotland and Standard Life – could be lost if it were outside the EU. Major multinationals such as Goldman Sachs and Bank of America have already called for the UK to remain, Ms Gadhia added.
“One of the key reasons for that is that London – and the benefits of that flow all the way through to Edinburgh and beyond – is such a key financial services centre for Europe and the world,” she said.
“The view very strongly is that if Britain votes to come out of the EU then that centre of financial excellence will move to Paris and Frankfurt.
“All of the investment that big companies have made, whether they’re global companies from overseas or our own companies, in the infrastructure employment and success of London and beyond would actually be untangled and would move to Europe.
“I think that disruption is very, very significant and I think would have a devastating effect on inward investment in the UK economy.”
John Edward, senior campaign spokesman, said the referendum vote on 23 June looks like being close across the UK, while Scots are more supportive.
He said: “We are putting all our supporters and activists on alert that the votes of the people of Scotland could make the difference in achieving a Remain result across the UK.”