Barrhead Travel director defends anti-Yes memo

Bill Munro. Picture: Robert Perry
Bill Munro. Picture: Robert Perry
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SCOTTISH INDEPENDENCE: A director of Barrhead Travel has defended his decision to send out a company-wide email in which he says a yes vote in the Scottish independence referendum would be a “disaster”.

Non-executive director Bill Munro sent out a memo to all staff on February 24 this year in which he warned of the consequences that Scotland becoming independent would have for the travel retailer.

The memo sent to staff

The memo sent to staff

The email includes points from a report by “banking expert” Robert Lyddon on the fiscal implications of Scottish independence.

The memo read: “For Barrhead Travel and most if not all travel companies it will be a complete disaster, especially within branches in England and Ireland.

“37% of our business comes from England and we would not be able to trade outwith Scotland due to Scotland being outwith the EU and English regulations for at least three years.

“The devil is on the detail and as the weeks pass and more is discovered the magnitude of the impending disaster should there be a yes vote becomes ever more apparent.”

Bill Munro said the views expressed in the email were his own and not that of the company.

“I decided to share my personal opinion which is that independence would not be good for Scotland, its businesses or its consumers.

“One of my main concerns is that of the financial protection of the Scottish travelling public which would be under

threat in an independent Scotland. Second to that is the uncertainty of cross border trading which I believe will be impacted negatively, a concern especially for businesses with interests outside of Scotland.

“The opinions expressed are my own and not those of the company. Just as I have the right to express my own opinion, I respect that is true of everyone in Scotland, including the 800 employees of Barrhead Travel who will make their own views clear throughout the democratic process.”

‘new low’

Labour MP Jim Murphy, whose constituency includes the firm’s Barrhead headquarters, criticised the actions of independence supporters who have criticised the company on Twitter.

“Barrhead Travel is yet another example of an employer in Scotland saying that being part of the UK is better for their business. Having access to a single UK market of sixty three million people, rather than five million, means Scotland’s firms have more opportunities to thrive and employ more people. Where is the sense in putting a barrier between Scottish businesses and their customers elsewhere in the UK?

“Businesses still aren’t being told what would replace the Pound and how we would get back into the EU or on what terms. Asking Scotland’s employers to hope that it will be alright on the night isn’t good enough.

“Being part of the UK means we can have the best of both worlds - a strong Scottish Parliament, with the guarantee of more powers, backed up by the strength, security and stability of being part of the larger UK. Independence puts that at risk.

“Barrhead Travel is a real Scottish success story to be proud of. The nationalists’ response to the company saying they want to stay part of the UK is a new low. This is the worst type of negative politics from Yes campaigners.”

Business for Scotland expressed surprise at the memo sent, last month, to the staff at Barrhead Travel.

Gordon MacIntyre-Kemp, Chief Executive of Business for Scotland said:

“As recently as last week Bill Munro, of Barrhead Travel, was on STV saying he wanted, as many people do, to know what’s best for Scotland, and like other voters that’s what he was looking for.

“He went on to say that the didn’t think there were currently sufficient answers to the many questions he still has.

“Business for Scotland believes the business case is clear. The idea that in the event of a Yes vote, for example, there would be restrictions on trade, as outlined in the memo, doesn’t make any sense. Day in, day out there is free trading taking place between independent countries.

“Business for Scotland would be happy to outline the overwhelming case for independence to Bill Munro and let him see why we believe it is the business opportunity of a lifetime.”