Belfast Telegraph

We all have a view on Scottish independence

By Margaret Canning, Business Journalist

The emotions provoked by the prospect of an independent Scotland and the break-up of the UK run deep in Scotland and in the hearts of many people in the nations of the UK.

Now businesses have bared their souls in a survey by the British Chamber of Commerce.

And, unsurprisingly, the majority of businesses outside Scotland want the country to remain in the UK, arguably because of the collective economic strength represented by the UK as it is at the moment.

In a poll of almost 2,400 members in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, 85% said they thought Scotland should stay part of the UK and 11% said Scotland should become an independent country, according to a Press Association report.

The most pressing issue raised at the prospect of independence – which could become a reality after the referendum in Scotland on September 18 – was future currency arrangements.

More than a third of businesses said a formal currency union would be in the best interests of the UK if Scotland goes solo. More than a quarter (28%) said Scotland should create its own currency if it votes for independence and 18% said it should join the euro.

The survey follows research by the Scottish Chambers of Commerce which found 8% of firms had plans to move away from Scotland if compatriots vote to leave the UK, while a further 10% said they were considering a move.

But for most of the respondents to the BCC survey, the independence debate was not having an impact on business decisions to date.

The research saw 11% of firms report that the debate was having a negative impact on orders and sales, compared with 5% in August last year. Sadly the survey did not probe Northern Ireland respondents over their fears about the repercussions of independence for Scotland on the continuing – albeit now quieter – campaign for a lower rate of corporation tax for Northern Ireland.

Perhaps that could be food for thought for a survey by our own chamber on how businesses think a decision by our cousins in Scotland to go it alone will affect our own future prosperity.

Belfast Telegraph