Business leaders '˜fed up' with independence '˜distraction'

Business leaders are 'fed up' with Nicola Sturgeon's quest for independence and want her to focus instead on administering the country rather than constitutional change, says the boss of a leading Scottish brand.

Highland Spring boss Les Montgomery said the Scottish Government should be focusing on employment and investment. Picture: Andy Buchanan/AFP/Getty Images
Highland Spring boss Les Montgomery said the Scottish Government should be focusing on employment and investment. Picture: Andy Buchanan/AFP/Getty Images

Les Montgomery, chief executive of bottled water firm Highland Spring, said Holyrood should also prioritise helping the UK Conservative government achieve the best possible Brexit outcome.

“Businesses are fed up,” he said. “The Scottish Government should be getting on with the job they are there to do – focusing on employment, investment, those kinds of things.

“Independence isn’t the job that the Scottish Government is supposed to be doing.”

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Montgomery’s comments come after the First Minister confirmed that plans for a second referendum on independence are being put on hold – but left the door open for another ballot before 2021.

The Highland Spring chief welcomed that indyref2 was “off the table” for now, as he branded it “just a distraction”.

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He added: “I have 600 people that I am responsible for and I am trying to do the best for them. I would think the Scottish Government should also try to do the best for the people as a whole.”

Bottling more than 500 million litres a year, Highland Spring is showing continued strong sales performance, with revenues of £103 million and pre-tax profits of £4.3m in 2015.

The company is ultimately owned by one of Scotland’s wealthiest men, Mahdi Al Tajir, who is worth £1.6 billion.