The heads of the Confederation of British Industry’s regions and nations council network and the organisation’s president Sir Mike Rake argue remaining in the UK is the best way to grow the economy and boost jobs.
The CBI’s UK-wide network represents 190,000 businesses, which employ a total of about seven million people.
In a joint statement, the leaders said: “We want Scotland to stay in the United Kingdom and hope you vote to do so. We believe that the prosperity of all people in the UK would be best-served by Scotland remaining part of it. We know the last five years have been difficult for many people – both those in work and those trying to get jobs. Businesses need to and will do more to help improve living standards. But the economic recovery is now under way and keeping the United Kingdom together is the best way to grow the economy and boost jobs.
“That’s because we share an internal market of 64 million people and almost 70 per cent of Scotland’s exports are with the rest of the UK. The decision is rightly one for the people of Scotland to make – we hope you will vote to stay together.”
John Howie, chairman of CBI Scotland, said: “We welcome this statement of support from businesses around the country, which recognises the essential contribution of Scotland to the Union, and the value of our social, cultural and economic partnership.”
The intervention by the CBI’s UK leadership on the eve of the referendum came after the Scottish section of the lobby group was forced into a U-turn after it voiced support for the No campaign earlier this year.
CBI Scotland petitioned the Electoral Commission to cancel its registration as an official supporter of the No campaign in the referendum after more than a dozen organisations, including Edinburgh, Glasgow and Dundee universities, government agencies in Scotland and the broadcasters STV and BBC, resigned from the body to protect their neutrality.
The pro-independence Business for Scotland group yesterday dismissed the latest CBI intervention in the referendum as a “London calling” style announcement from No supporters based outside Scotland.
Chief executive Gordon MacIntyre-Kemp said: “The CBI is irrelevant in Scotland now and will still be irrelevant when Scotland votes Yes on Thursday.”
The latest referendum intervention by big businesses came after banking giants such as the Royal Bank of Scotland, Clydesdale and Standard Life last week suggested they could overhaul their company arrangements and register in England after a Yes vote.
Energy company EDF yesterday told its workers that “uncertainties” remain about the impact independence would have on its operations.
In an e-mail to its 15,000 UK staff, chief executive officer Vincent de Rivaz said the company was “not policy neutral” in the debate over Scotland’s future and warned of the risks of leaving the Union.