Scots-born businessman warns of economic threat to Union

A well-known Scottish-born businessman has warned that the security of the Union is in real danger without the implementation of a revamped economic agenda – and Scotland re-emerging as a manufacturing powerhouse.
Mills is calling for a more prosperous economic agenda in which Scotland is a key player. Picture: contributed.Mills is calling for a more prosperous economic agenda in which Scotland is a key player. Picture: contributed.
Mills is calling for a more prosperous economic agenda in which Scotland is a key player. Picture: contributed.

John Mills, who founded retailer JML in 1986 and is a major Labour donor, has just published The Elephant in the Room, in which he warns that Britain is on the brink of a decade of low growth, record unemployment, and falling living standards without a “shake-up” of its approach to running the economy.

He told Scotland on Sunday that in the book, he “lays a pathway to a bright, more prosperous future for us all with an economy growing at two or three times its pre-Covid-19 rate” – and believes it should be profitable again for manufacturers to open new sites in Scotland rather than, say, China.

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The “elephant in the room” cited by the publication is represented, he said, by the economic policies that have led to Britain deindustrialising “to an extent unrivalled by any western economy, leaving our economy deeply unbalanced”.

The book is published by think tank Civitas jointly with Mills’ new organisation, The Institute for Prosperity, and he added that Scotland has been one of the biggest victims of decades of deindustrialisation, eroding millions of high-calibre jobs.

"Our economy no longer works in the interests of Scottish manufacturers, but rather our London-centric services industry. We need to reinvigorate manufacturing, and if we don't, it will have severe consequences not only on our economy, but on our politics, the fabric of society, and the future of the Union.

"Undoubtedly, the issue of independence has reared its head again. We must all understand that our economic future sits at the heart of this debate, and at the moment... there are communities in Scotland that feel left behind. They don't feel a shared sense of economic purpose – nor do they feel there future is a bright one.

"What I'm proposing is a shake-up of UK economic policy… We need to make it profitable again for manufacturers to site new [locations] in Scotland, as opposed to China or Germany. The security of the Union is at real threat if we don't put plans in place for a better, more prosperous economic agenda with Scotland very much a critical player in it."

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