Leading Scottish businessman, Robert Kilgour says business leaders were “too shy” about getting involved in the referendum campaign last time and has now launched www.scottish-business.uk, to give business people a place to register their support for the UK.
The site has already attracted 100 firms to sign up in support after the Scottish Parliament last month voted in favour of staging a second referendum following Brexit.
Mr Kilgour is the founder of Four Seasons Health Care, now the UK’s biggest care home provider with over 400 facilities. He left the firm a decade ago but remains an active entrepreneur.
He warned that inward investors, both in London and abroad, have told him they are discounting Scotland as a potential area for investment, due to the uncertainty over another referendum.
“The last time we faced an independence referendum, the Scottish business community was simply too slow and too shy at making their voice heard on the merits of staying in the United Kingdom,” he said.
“Having heard investors that I know well, actively stepping back from investing in the Scottish economy, I fear for the future and am urging business leaders to share their support through the website. It will only be by strength of voice and an evidenced based case that we will be able to defend the will of Scottish businesses of all sizes to remain in the Union.”
Nicola Sturgeon last week wrote to Theresa May seeking permission to hold another vote on leaving the UK in light of Brexit, but this was rejected by the Prime Minister. The UK Government has control over constitutional issues.
The website aims to garner support from small, medium and large businesses, ensuring that the voice of Scotland’s business community seeking to remain in the Union is properly heard.
Mr Kilgour added: “I know of many people, not just business leaders, who have changed their thinking since the last referendum in Scotland and with the spectre of Brexit on the horizon, there are simply too many unknowns for Scotland to take such a momentous decision at this time.
“Ultimately, for Scotland to succeed in business we need to have a strong pipeline for investment and growth and at the moment, the approach of our politicians is turning too many investors away.
“It’s not good enough for business leaders to quietly shake their heads in dismay. Ahead of launching today, we have attracted 100 business people signing up from a wide range of sectors.
“Scottish-business.uk is giving anyone interested in protecting the future of Scottish businesses a vehicle to register their support to stay part of the United Kingdom in the event of another independence referendum.”
Pro-independence group Business for Scotland’s CEO Gordon MacIntyre-Kemp responded to the launch: “There were multiple failed attempts to garner business support for the union in 2014 and most were half-hearted, or in the case of the CBI, self destructive.
“For five years now BfS has been going from strength to strength and has more than 4,000 members; just last week we launched new chapters in locations as different as London and Aviemore.
“We seem to remember Robert Kilgour made similar negative claims about inward investment in 2014 and it turned out to be a record year for Scottish inward investment projects.
“As a former care home owner he should perhaps consider how much that sector needs EU immigrants to run those businesses, and he should possibly wait to see what rights EU immigrants have to continue working here after Brexit.
“Otherwise, his declaration of support for the union will look like it’s based on unconsidered British nationalism using bankrupt and discredited (by facts) scare stories from the last referendum, when the planned Tory hard Brexit has since changed the constitutional question completely and absolutely destroyed the economic case for the Union.”