Defence firms speak out on Scots split plan

Suzie Neuwirth
ADS GROUP, which represents the UK’s aerospace, defence, security and space industries, yesterday became the latest organisation to speak out against Scottish independence.

The trade body warned that if Scotland votes to break away from the UK at September’s referendum, the resulting uncertainty could have a damaging effect on investor confidence and export deals.

“ADS members in the UK aerospace, defence, security and space industries benefit from the stability, strength and scale of the whole of the UK,” said chief executive Paul Everitt.

“September’s Referendum on the future of Scotland could have a profound impact on these sectors’ global competitiveness.”

ADS’ comments follow a similar warning last month from BAE Systems, which employs 35,000 people across the UK.

The defence giant said that continued union would offer greater certainty and stability for its business.

Lloyds Banking Group and oil giants Shell and BP have also expressed concerns about devolution, while insurer Standard Life warned that it may relocate its operations to England.

“In addition to the debates about monetary and fiscal policy, there is genuine uncertainty about the impact of independence on the UK’s – and Scotland’s – international influence, export opportunities and inward investment,” continued Everitt.

“Companies are concerned about the costs and consequences negotiation and transition arrangements might have on procurement budgets, mature supply chains and highly-skilled workforces.”

The UK is the second largest exporter of defence equipment and services in the world, after the US, according to data cited by ADS.

In 2012, its defence exports rose by almost two thirds to £8.8bn, equating to 20 per cent of the global defence export market.