Scottish independence: Business support is split

BUSINESSES are split over Scotland’s constitutional future with less than half backing independence and no clear support for any of the alternatives, a survey by a pro-independence business group suggests.
Twelve per cent of businesses surveyed want Scottish Parliament dissolved completelyTwelve per cent of businesses surveyed want Scottish Parliament dissolved completely
Twelve per cent of businesses surveyed want Scottish Parliament dissolved completely

Less than a tenth (9 per cent) back full independence with no formal currency or defence union, the survey of 1,200 businesses commissioned by Business for Scotland found.

The largest proportion (32 per cent) backed independence with a common market, currency union and social and cultural ties with the other home nations, the option closest to the SNP’s current offering if Westminster rolls back on its refusal to share the pound.

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But almost as many (28 per cent) backed the status quo, despite all of the main unionist parties now promising more devolution.

Devolution of everything except defence, foreign affairs, most taxes and welfare - the option closest to devo-max - was backed by less than a fifth (19 per cent), while over a tenth (12 per cent) want the Scottish Parliament dissolved completely.

Business for Scotland said 41 per cent support “independence related options”, while the SNP’s current vision of independence offers “the right combination of progress and continuity for devo-max minded people”.

But pro-UK campaign Better Together said the survey is “a spectacular own goal”.

Business for Scotland said: “Devo-max is not technically on the ballot paper but neither is separation.

“In fact, in our view the form of independence on offer to voters is much closer to devo-max than any of the other options that voters may be offered.

“If the powers offered to the Scottish people prior to the referendum are substantially weaker than full financial autonomy as seems almost certain, then Business for Scotland and the Yes campaign needs to make the case for why voting Yes is the right combination of progress and continuity for devo-max minded people.”

It added: “The battle for undecided voters with a business interest will be shaped by whomever most convincingly articulates the balance between continuity and change, or interdependence and independence.”

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Better Together campaign director Blair McDougall said: “This survey is an enormous own-goal and will leave the SNP campaign red-faced. Even this survey from their own business organisation shows that just one in 10 employers want to leave the United Kingdom.

“Over the last few weeks, we have seen what we would lose from leaving the UK. Independence means losing the pound, fewer jobs, higher costs and bigger cuts. Oil companies like BP and Shell; financial companies like Standard Life and Alliance Trust; and shipbuilders like Babcock, have all said that breaking from the UK would be bad for jobs.

“As part of the UK we can have the best of both worlds. Our strong Scottish Parliament, with the guarantee of more powers, takes key decisions about jobs, skills and training, and we benefit from the strength, security and stability of being part of the larger UK economy.”

A Business for Scotland spokeswoman said: “Forty-one percent of those surveyed are in favour of an elected Scottish Parliament making all the decisions that affect Scotland. Of that 41 per cent, 32 per cent want to see continuing social, cultural and economic ties.”

She said Business for Scotland has members from all political parties and none, and is a non-party political organisation which supports a shared sterling area as being in the best interests of Scotland and the rest of the UK.

The spokeswoman added: “Our survey showed that 58 per cent are in favour of a major shift in the balance of power from Westminster to Holyrood.

“Business for Scotland believes the only way to achieve this is to vote for independence on the 18th of September.”