The “rUK” economy would continue to thrive even if Scotland votes for independence next year, a survey of City executives has stated.
The financial industry in the south-east of England would continue to drive the economy and new shale gas reserves would make up for the loss of North Sea oil and gas revenues, the report predicted.
Last night, nationalists said the survey showed businesses are “unfazed” by the prospect of independence, while pro- Union campaigners insisted Scotland is stronger if resources are “pooled” across the UK.
The majority of City fund managers believe that rUK would not suffer if Scotland leaves, according to the research from leading spread betting and CFD company, Capital Spreads. A CFD – contract for difference – is a contract between an investor and an investment bank or a spread-betting firm. At the contract’s end, the parties exchange the difference between the opening and closing prices of a specified financial instrument, such as shares or commodities.
Fund managers from 200 of the City’s major investment houses, managing assets in excess of $10 trillion (£6.2tn), were polled as part of the firm’s Intellectual Capital Report.
The prevailing City opinion is that the rUK – England, Wales and Northern Ireland – economy would not suffer, and is most likely to prosper in the event of a Yes vote in next year’s independence referendum.
More than two-thirds of investors believe the rUK economy would not be adversely affected by Scottish independence, the polling by Populus found.
Nearly half said the UK economy without Scotland would emerge stronger, with a further quarter stating there would be no impact on the UK economy should Scotland leave. Only 25 per cent said the UK economy would be “marginally worse off” without Scotland, while eight per cent said it would be “significantly worse off”.
SNP Treasury spokesman Stewart Hosie said last night: “This survey, which builds on the recent British Chambers of Commerce report that showed most businesses are ‘unfazed’ by the referendum, gives a good insight into what businesses know – not what politicians in the ‘Project Fear’ No campaign assert.
“The anti-independence campaign’s myths that the referendum would harm business have yet again been shown up as nonsense by the industry themselves – just like their scares over inward investment and roaming charges. A Yes vote will allow Scotland and the rest of the UK to both stand on our own two feet – taking our own decisions, and working together on issues of common interest.”
But a spokesman for the pro-Union Better Together campaign insisted the UK is stronger with Scotland inside it. “The views of people in the rest of the UK are important, but this is a decision about Scotland to made by people in Scotland,” he said.
“Most people know that we are better and stronger together, when we pool and share the resources of people across the UK.”
The authors of the report said some business leaders in England would welcome Scottish independence. Nick Lewis, head of trading and market risk at Capital Spreads, said: “Far from fearing a divorce from Scotland, fund managers appear eager to wave them off, anticipating, if anything, a boost for the remaining Union.
“The UK is still heavily reliant on its financial and professional services industries, overwhelmingly headquartered in the south-east of England.
“The advent of fracking technology and discovery of shale reserves in England may reduce the reliance on the North Sea oil supply, the plume on Scotland’s economic thistle.”
The Scottish Government under Alex Salmond has dismissed claims of economic uncertainty over independence, pointing to reports which suggest Scotland would also thrive.
The report said there is “no sign of investors being deterred from coming to Scotland” over the possibility of Scotland leaving the UK, adding: “If anything, the reverse appears to be true.”