Stagecoach says independence a risk for investors

Stagecoach boss Brian Souter is a well-known SNP donor. Picture: Robert Perry
Stagecoach boss Brian Souter is a well-known SNP donor. Picture: Robert Perry
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THE SNP donor Sir Brian Souter’s Stagecoach company has identified the independence referendum as a risk in a key document for investors.

Stagecoach’s preliminary results listed the “Principal risks and uncertainties” facing the company.

The list included the phrase: “There is a risk that changes to the regulatory environment or changes to the availability of public funding could affect the Group’s prospects. Such changes may arise as

a result of the outcomes of the September 2014 referendum on Scottish independence and/or the 2015 UK general election.”

The Stagecoach chairman has been one of the most prominent and generous donors to the SNP and the Yes campaign. He has promised up to £1 million to the SNP by matching pound-for-pound every donation received during the independence referendum. He has also donated

£100,000 to the Christians for Independence group. In the past, he donated £500,000 to the SNP in the run up to the 2007 election plus a further £500,000 ahead of the SNP’s overwhelming 2011 win.

Scottish Labour MP and Shadow Business Minister Ian Murray said: “When even Brian Souter, who has bankrolled the nationalists for years, thinks separation is a big risk then you know Alex Salmond has a problem. This intervention drives a coach and horses through the nationalists’ case for separation.

“Breaking up the UK would be a big risk for Scotland. Stagecoach are right to highlight the risk separation poses to public funding in Scotland. When Alex Salmond can’t even tell us the basics like what would replace the Pound, how pensions would be afforded or what would happen to funding for our schools and hospitals, it’s no surprise the majority of Scots are saying No Thanks to separation.”

Mr Souter was unavailable for comment at the time of publication.

Member of the independence supporting Business for Scotland group David Cairns, Executive Chairman and major shareholder of Prismtech, said: “This is a nonsensical interpretation by the No campaign. Brian Souter is on the record as a business leader who will vote Yes in September so that we can build a more prosperous economy and fairer society, so we should be grateful to the No campaign for drawing attention to his strong pro-independence views. The report discusses the UK General Election in exactly the same context as the referendum, and is therefore not about an independent Scotland - just as it doesn’t specify any particular outcome of the 2015 general election.

“This is just a standard part of company reporting, the risk isn’t in Yes or No winning this year just as it isn’t in Cameron, Miliband, Clegg or Farage winning next year.”