Scottish independence: ‘Finance industry would leave’

Michael Fallon speaks at the Conservative Party Conference. Picture: Getty

Michael Fallon speaks at the Conservative Party Conference. Picture: Getty

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ThE financial services industry north of the Border would relocate to England if Scotland votes for independence next year, a senior Conservative has warned at the party conference.

Business minister Michael Fallon told a fringe meeting that he believes companies like the Royal Bank of Scotland would leave Edinburgh, Europe’s third biggest centre for financial services, because of the uncertainty created by independence.

He said: “I’m worried about these headquarters. The Royal Bank of Scotland is headquartered in Edinburgh, Lloyds actually has its registere office in Glasgow through its connection with the Trustee Savings Bank (TSB) – I worry about those offices.

“I’m worried about my own home city of Dundee – I’m worried about the Alliance Trust. Why would they stay in Dundee when so much of their business would actually be done in the rest of the United Kingdom?

“We could see a move of corporate headquarters away from Scotland and I think that would be extremely damaging.”

The claim was dismissed by the Scottish Government which said it was part of the “project fear” strategy being run by the No campaign.

A spokesman for finance secretary John Swinney said: “We heard exactly the same Tory-led scare stories in the run-up to the 1997 referendum. They were wrong then, when people saw through the bluff and bluster – and they are wrong now when these false claims are just another part of the No campaign’s discredited ‘Project Fear’.

“The reality is that an independent Scotland will be a hugely attractive place for investors.”

Davidson tells Tory faithful ‘Salmond doesn’t speak for majority of Scots’

Alex Salmond does not represent the majority of Scots, Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson will tell the conference today as she appeals to delegates to get behind the campaign to keep the UK together.In the latest attempt by the Conservatives to rebuild their support in Scotland, Ms Davidson has been given the prime slot on the main platform immediately ahead of David Cameron.But her speech has been overshadowed by a row over comments made by Mr Cameron in a broadcast interview where he said he would not discuss more powers until after Scots decide on whether they want to stay in the UK or not.Ms Davidson has a commission chaired by Lord Strathclyde which is supposed to report on proposals for more devolution before the referendum and briefings to the Scotland on Sunday suggest that Tory UK ministers are already considering devolving control over the bedroom tax with the rest of housing benefit.SNP MSP Stuart McMillan said: “David Cameron is expecting the people of Scotland to buy a pig in a poke from Westminster – he is treating us like fools. A No vote is a vote for no more powers, and David Cameron has just confirmed that. The way for Scotland to achieve the powers we need to build a fairer society and more prosperous economy is to vote Yes.”Ms Davidson will say: “While everybody understands why this matters to Scotland, I want to stress its importance to the rest of the UK and why, as Conservatives, we are leading the fight to keep our country together.”Appealing to the shared history of the UK nations she will add: “In the good times, we have shared our prosperity and our expertise. In darker days, we stood shoulder to shoulder with our allies and with each other.

“The Union is in our DNA. When it comes to this issue, Alex Salmond doesn’t speak for a majority of Scots. In fact, he never has.”

ELSEWHERE

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Eddie Barnes: Tax could be Yes campaign’s big gun

Leaders: Front line changes needs careful policing

Allan Massie: Battle for Britain in centre ground

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