Most UK businesses 'want Scotland to stay in UK'

The British Chambers of Commerce says 85% of firms want Scottish voters to reject independence.

by Elizabeth Anderson
Last Updated: 07 May 2014

An overwhelming majority of businesses in England, Wales and Northern Ireland want Scotland to stay in the UK, according to a survey commissioned by the British Chambers of Commerce.
In a poll of 2,400 BCC members, 85% said they wanted Scottish voters to reject independence, whilst 11% supported a 'yes' vote.

Businesses fear the split could damage cross-border trade and leave the pound vulnerable. Two thirds said no new opportunities would arise for their businesses if Scotland voted for independence.

And in the event of a 'no' vote, 63% of firms said the government should use the opportunity to reform the current arrangements for funding Britain's devolved nations. Calculated under the Barnett formula, the mechanism used to adjust public expenditure allocated to devolved regions, Scots get £1,364 per head more spending than the UK average.

'Businesses in England, Wales and Northern Ireland remain less than captivated by the intense debate unfolding north of the border. Yet they do have views on the potential impacts of a change in Scotland’s relationship with the rest of the UK,' BCC director John Longworth said.

The debate over Scottish independence has drawn mixed responses across Scotland and the rest of the UK. Campaigners who want to save the union fear the decision of Scottish voters could be influenced by their 'heart' rather than a consideration of economic and other benefits of the Union.

Scottish nationalists argue that a split would give them greater economic freedom, and would allow them to keep tax revenues from UK oil and gas exploration, mainly based in Scottish waters.

In a survey published by the Scottish Chambers of Commerce last week, nearly a fifth of the 759 Scottish businesses polled said they would consider moving away from Scotland in the event of a 'Yes' vote.

But it found that 56% of respondents rated the quality of the independence debate so far as either 'poor' or 'dismal.' Information provided by pro-independence campaigners was more useful that that issued by the pro-UK campaign, the survey suggested.

The UK government information was described as 'useless' by 30% of the businesses surveyed. Only 11% of respondents used that term to describe information from the Scottish government.
Scotland's referendum on whether to end its 307-union with England takes place on 18 September.

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