Independent Scotland could lose 3,000 millionaires if it leaves UK

Tim Wallace
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Scotland is home to many financial service workers, in cities such as Aberdeen
Thousands of Scottish millionaires could flee into England if the country votes for independence in tomorrow’s referendum, according to estimates from Spear’s and WealthInsight.

Around 15 per cent of Scots millionaires run businesses based elsewhere in the UK, giving them a major incentive to move south.

Between them, these 3,285 business leaders could take more than £8bn out of the country with them.

“While Scotland has long been a hot­bed of entrepreneurship, these stat­istics show that a large proportion of its wealthiest entrepreneurs have benefitted from cross-border business,” said WealthInsight’s Oliver Williams.

“A Yes vote would therefore not only be hostile to many within Scotland’s wealthy community, but could affect the fortunes of its future entrepreneurs.”

“A newly independent Scotland would put many wealthy business owners in an awkward position where they no longer live in the same country as their company.”

Scots bosses who have pledged to vote against independence include Baxter Food Group’s chief Helen Baxter, and City Refrigeration Holdings’ chairman Willie Haughey.

Former Scottish and Southern Energy head Ian Marchant has also come out in favour of the union, as has Bab­cock International Group’s executive director Archie Bethel.

A Yes vote tomorrow could also drive out some of Scotland’s financial services sector, which is largely based in Edinburgh and Aberdeen.

RBS and Lloyds, as well as the Clydesdale Bank, have all indicated they plan to redomicile their headquarters in the rest of the UK.

Although they promise the move will not hit jobs, analysts expect that in time employment will also shift south.

UBS economist Paul Donovan yesterday pointed to the experience of Quebec, where bank deposits flooded out of the region ahead of its referendum in 1995, taking jobs with them – and the funds did not flow back despite the rejection of independence.

UPDATE: This article has been updated to clarify Ian Marchant's position on independence.

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