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Salmond's fury at claims big banks would flee if Scots make the break

By James Cusick and Chris Green

Alex Salmond has lashed out at the BBC and the Treasury after the broadcaster revealed that the Royal Bank of Scotland would move its headquarters to England in the event of a Yes vote.

A furious Mr Salmond wrote to the Prime Minister demanding an explanation for what he claimed was the Treasury's "deliberate attempt to cause uncertainty in the financial markets".

A raft of banks – including RBS, Lloyds Banking Group, Tesco Bank, TSB and Clydesdale – have all said they are considering moving operations to England if there is a vote for independence.

The first minister and SNP leader said the alleged BBC briefing by a "Treasury source" was "a matter of extraordinary gravity", and urged the BBC to co-operate with the probe that must follow.

In his letter to Mr Cameron, Mr Salmond said: "While you were in Edinburgh yesterday telling the people of Scotland that you love them, behind the scenes your business adviser has been desperately phoning round businesses trying to get companies to make statements against independence, and your Treasury has been involved in trying to destabilise financial services in Scotland – all in an attempt to frighten voters."

Speaking at a press conference for international journalists in Edinburgh, Mr Salmond said: "The Treasury, officials or ministers are not allowed to brief market-sensitive information."

Mr Salmond – who directed some of his anger at the BBC's political editor Nick Robinson –added that the No campaign has been "caught red-handed as being part of a campaign of scaremongering".

RBS, which has been based in Scotland since 1727, said it would be necessary to redomicile the bank's holding company and its main operating entity to England if Scotland votes Yes. Lloyds Banking Group issued similar advice, while Standard Life has also advised investors it is "planning for new regulated companies in England to which we could transfer parts of our business if there was a need to do so".

Treasury Financial Secretary David Gauke said: "Looks like an independent Scotland will have more pandas than banks or insurance companies."

Clydesdale Bank, which is part of National Australia Bank, also said its contingency plans for a Yes vote included re-registering as an English company to mitigate risks and provide increased certainty for customers.

Support for independence has fallen by 6%, the latest YouGov poll suggested last night. Fifty-two per cent of respondents said they would vote No, against 48%.

Meanwhile, the Daily Record puts support for the union at 53% and backing for independence on 47%.

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