Scottish independence good for economy - Gilbert

Aberdeen Asset head Martin Gilbert believes that an independent Scotland will prosper. Picture: Neil Hanna

Aberdeen Asset head Martin Gilbert believes that an independent Scotland will prosper. Picture: Neil Hanna

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AN INDEPENDENT Scotland would be a “big success”, the head of the country’s largest asset manager, has claimed as he dismissed suggestions a Yes vote would harm the economy.

Martin Gilbert, chief executive of Aberdeen Asset Management, said he thought Scotland would prosper whatever the outcome of the referendum next week.

The company has stated that it is officially neutral in the independence debate and has no plans to move its headquarters from Aberdeen, despite suggestions from other major firms that they would pull out after a Yes vote. Mr Gilbert, the company’s founder, said he had already voted by post but declined to say which way.

“I think an independent Scotland would be a big success, but it is a secret ballot and I will abide by that,” he said.

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Mr Gilbert also dismissed suggestions from the Bank of England governor Mark Carney that a currency union was incompatible with national sovereignty.

He said: “I think an independent Scotland would be a big success. Most sensible people now accept that Scotland would be prosperous with either outcome in the current constitutional debate.

“A sterling union would be both desirable and highly likely whatever is said in London now.”

Mr Gilbert also said sterlingisation – in which an independent Scotland kept the pound without a formal deal – would be a “pretty good option”.

The SNP government has indicated it would refuse to take on its share of UK debt if the main unionist parties at Westminster carried out a threat to keep an independent Scotland out of a currency union.

Mr Gilbert said: “Low or no debt would be the position if an independent Scotland were denied access to Bank of England financial assets, and that would leave the newly independent country in both budget and balance of payments surplus. Not a bad start.”

Scotland’s finance secretary John Swinney, welcomed Mr Gilbert’s remarks, which he said boosted the economic case for independence. He said: “This is a significant intervention from a well-respected figure in the financial services sector.”

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