Scottish independence: Business case ‘not made’

Alex Salmond wants to debate with who he says is the real leader of the No campaign, David Cameron. Picture: TSPL
Alex Salmond wants to debate with who he says is the real leader of the No campaign, David Cameron. Picture: TSPL
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SOME of the biggest names in Scottish business have warned that the business case for independence has “not been made” in a letter published today.

The letter, signed by 120 captains of industry and published in today’s Scotsman argues the country’s economic ties inside the UK support almost one million jobs and account for Scotland’s biggest market by far.

The letter came after a reinvigorated First Minister issued calls for an 11th-hour TV showdown with Prime Minister David Cameron after 71 per cent of Scots polled thought Mr Salmond came out on top against former chancellor Alistair Darling on Monday.

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Signed by a broad cross-section from Scotland’s business community, the letter says: “Our conclusion is that the business case for independence has not been made. Uncertainty surrounds a number of vital issues including currency, regulation, tax, pensions, EU membership and support for our exports around the world; and uncertainty is bad for business.”

Signatories include William Haughey of City Refrigeration; Peter Gordon, director of William Grant and Sons; Archie Bethel CBE, divisional chief executive of Babcock; and Ian Marchant, former chief executive of Scottish and Southern Energy.

The letter comes after the First Minister said a Yes vote would give him a “mandate” to negotiate for a currency union between Scotland and the UK, letting Scotland share the pound and Bank of England. “The No campaign had their chance, their bluff has been called, the people overwhelmingly in Scotland, in poll after poll, want to keep the pound,” Mr Salmond said. “That is the decision the Scottish people are being asked to make. That’s the sovereign will of the Scottish people.”

He added: “That’s what won the debate last night and that’s the message that’s going to resonate over the next few weeks.”

He told the Glasgow debate audience he has three Plan Bs if this were rejected, including using the pound without agreement, or a separate currency used under a “fixed” or “floating” arrangement. And there was little room for magnanimity towards the former chancellor from Mr Salmond, who adopted a more aggressive approach during debate. “Alistair Darling is a frontman for the Conservative party in this campaign,” he said.

“Now that Alistair Darling is taking part in no further debates, let’s have the real leader of the No campaign, David Cameron; let’s have him in Scotland now. Let’s see if he can do any better than Alistair Darling did.”

Postal vote forms start arriving through letterboxes today ahead of the 18 September vote.

Mr Darling insisted the No camp was still on course for victory next month. “TV debates are a fact of life nowadays, but only part of the process,” he said. “You’ve got to bear in mind that this referendum campaign has been running for two-and-a-half years in Scotland and a lot of people are longing for the day they can get it behind them.

“People have been having discussions among friends and family – that’s where the real debate is actually taking place.”


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