City: Scots exit good for UK plc

SCOTTISH independence would be good for the British economy, according to members of the City A.M/PoliticsHome Voice of the City panel.

Fifty one per cent of the panel, which has been specially recruited to represent a cross-section of London’s business and financial community, said an independent Scotland would be either “very good” or “somewhat good” for the economy in the rest of Britain. Nineteen per cent of the panel said that Scottish independence wouldn’t make much of a difference either way.

Just thirty-per cent said independence would be either “somewhat bad” or “very bad” for the economy, a result that will fuel fears among unionists and supporters of the UK‚Äąthat London’s business and financial community is turning its back on Scotland.

The findings come after the pro-independence SNP won a stunning victory in the elections to the Scottish Parliament on Thursday.

The Scottish Nationalists won 69 seats, giving them a comfortable overall majority, even though the electoral system was specifically designed so that one party could not win overall control.

Labour, which lost seven seats, and the Liberal Democrats, which lost twelve, suffered a crushing defeat. The Tories also lost five seats.

SNP leader Alex Salmond used his victory speech on Friday to announce that he would hold a referendum on Scottish independence within five years.

Yesterday, the coalition government at Westminster said it would not move to block the referendum, although Prime Minister David Cameron has vowed to fight it if one is called.

The majority of our panellists felt the UK economy would be better off without Scotland, which has a bloated public sector that accounts for a much higher percentage of GDP than is the case in London and the home counties.

“Scotland should leave UK and join the Eurozone – they are made for each other,” said one panellist.

However, there was concern among some panellists that an independent Scotland would be economically unstable, and would eventually be bailed out by Westminster.

One panellist said: “If Scotland is to be independent, we must ensure that it is not eligible for any UK handouts – they cannot have their shortcake and eat it.”

The views of the panel are surprising because most panellists (53 per cent) describe themselves as Conservatives, a staunchly pro-union party, while many other members of our panel describe themselves as independent but are also generally Tory voters.

Meanwhile, an overwhelming majority of panellists (75 per cent) believe it would be wrong for David Cameron to pull the plug on the coalition despite divisions within the government.

If you wish to apply to join our panel of business and finance professionals, and take our weekly, 30-second email survey, please go to www.cityam.com/panel