Weir chief says no to Scottish independence

Suzie Neuwirth
THE CHIEF executive of Scottish engineering giant Weir Group yesterday warned of the “guaranteed” costs of independence and said he would vote “no” in September’s referendum.

The FTSE 100-listed firm commissioned Oxford Economics to produce a report on the business implications of Scottish Independence, which claims that the move would “create a number of costs and uncertainties”.

An independent Scotland would face increased borrowing costs, increased taxes and significant public spending cuts, all of which would impact businesses and households, the report claims.

But greater policy making powers could benefit Scotland, leading to lower corporation tax, it added.

“I support the Scottish government’s desire to make Scotland a more competitive place in which businesses can prosper but the report...suggests that the current independence proposals may add substantial costs, at least in the short term and perhaps for many years to come,” said Keith Cochrane.

“For businesses, the conclusions seem clear: the costs of independence are guaranteed but the benefits are uncertain. That has the potential to make Scotland less competitive, not more.”

Weir, which employs 600 people in Scotland and 15,000 worldwide, is the latest company to speak out against devolution.

Last month Standard Life became the first Scottish business to warn it may quit Scotland in the case of a yes vote, in yet another blow to Scotland’s first minister Alex Salmond.

Cochrane would not say whether Weir would leave Scotland in the case of independence.

“Frankly it is too early to call at this point because there is so much uncertainty,” Cochrane told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.