As the second Scottish lord mayor of London in as many years, the referendum debate has had particular poignancy for me. I understand the desire by some in Scotland to “go their own way” as an independent country, but I am glad that the majority of Scots have chosen to remain in the United Kingdom.
We have been greater than the sum of our parts as a union for over 300 years, and the proposed enhanced devolution that Scotland will experience while remaining in the UK will enable its national spirit to thrive, while our entwined economies and business communities prosper together.
London and Edinburgh are the UK’s two largest and oldest financial centres, which is why the lord mayor visits Edinburgh at least once during the mayoral year – I have had two very productive visits. Lord mayors are ambassadors for the whole of the UK’s financial and professional services community, and on my visits to Scotland, I have seen for myself the many close ties that bind us together as a business community, in Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen.
With the will of the majority of the Scottish people behind them, Scottish companies can now continue to focus on economic growth and jobs, without having to worry about location decisions, legal wrangles, and the obvious uncertainty that deters investment. Financial services rely on stability for growth, and now they can be assured of it. And the stability of this United Kingdom over the last three centuries has enabled the most extraordinary growth.
It’s worth reflecting on the fact that the UK is Europe’s number one destination for foreign direct investment. That is something we can all be proud of. Scotland has rightly attracted a significant share of foreign investment – and I have been promoting its excellence across a wide range of sectors in nearly 30 countries this year.
We have so many investment needs and opportunities – not least in energy and infrastructure, where the UK is competing with every other country in the world. It is fundamental that our attractiveness is maintained, and that can only come through the stability and predictability that the UK has offered for centuries.
I am proud to be a global Scot and to promote Scotland. I am proud too that the energy services sector in Aberdeen is one of the jewels in our energy crown – to the extent that even the Saudi national oil company Saudi AramCo has come to invest in centres of excellence in Aberdeen.
In every country I visit across the world, I meet some of the global Scottish community – and I count myself among their number. As we prepare to meet the challenges and seize the opportunities of the next decade, I am pleased to have Scots at our side – both those remaining at home, and those in London. We celebrate those ties now and look forward to deepening them for a shared and prosperous future.
Fiona Woolf is lord mayor of London.