A LEADING businessman who backs independence has claimed that a Yes vote in next year’s referendum “does not mean the end of Britishness”.
Tony Banks, chairman of Scotland’s largest private care home provider, Balhousie, made the claim ahead of the launch of a new pro-independence business group tonight.
Writing in today’s Scotsman, Mr Banks says he backs a Yes vote because he believes it will be good for the rest of the UK as well as Scotland.
Mr Banks, who fought in the Falklands with the Parachute Regiment, insisted that Scots could choose their own identities after independence, including remaining British.
The tycoon will play a key role in Business for Scotland, which has recruited more than 300 members to campaign for a Yes vote in the referendum.
Mr Banks writes that he is “proud to be British and will remain so after independence because I, not anyone else, choose my identity”.
He goes on to claim that Scottish independence would be a “trigger for major reform that will be in the long-term interests of the City of London and the rest of the UK”.
Mr Banks talks about his belief that “independence is in the interests of not only Scotland – but also the rest of the UK” as he claims the two nations could cooperate over defence and the economy.
He writes: “A Yes vote does not mean the end of Britishness. What it means is a change to the political and economic union so we can have the economic powers to make for a more prosperous and fairer society according to our own priorities and goals.”
His claim was backed by SNP MSP Jamie Hepburn, who said he was “relaxed” about Britishness in an independent Scotland.
Mr Hepburn said: “Independence is about making Scotland a better place and although Britishness isn’t the first thing that comes to my mind when I describe myself I’m relaxed about it.
“It’s an acceptable position and I can understand where he [Mr Banks] is coming from.”
However, Tory MSP Alex Johnstone claimed that supporters of independence were using Britishness as a slogan to attract votes in the referendum.