Nicola Sturgeon dealt ‘hammer blow’ as RBS warns it will move to London under independence

Indyref2: Scottish independence cost discussed by expert

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RBS was founded in Scotland’s capital of Edinburgh nearly 300 years ago in 1727. Alison Rose, chief executive of parent company NatWest Group, said the banking giant remains “neutral” on Scottish independence and is something for the country’s people to decide. But she warned the bank’s balance sheet would be “too big for an independent Scottish economy”.

Ms Rose told the Herald newspaper: As you know, we are neutral on the issue of Scottish independence – it is something for the Scottish people to decide.

“We have been very clear, and it is recognised by senior nationalists, that in the event that there was independence in Scotland, our balance sheet would be too big for an independent Scottish economy, and we would move our registered headquarters… to London.”

However Ms Rose insisted whether or not independence is won, the bank’s dedication to Scotland would remain unchanged, where it is one of the country’s biggest private-sector employers and supporters of businesses and households.

She added: “It is really just the size of the balance sheet at that point, which we have been very clear in public about and with senior nationalists.

“The issue of Scottish independence is one for the Scottish people.”

But the admission from RBS over moving its HQ from Scotland to London in the event of the SNP willing independence has set alarm bells ringing throughout the country.

Scottish Conservative finance spokesman Murdo Fraser warned the move “starkly confirms the very real consequences for Scottish jobs and business if Nicola Sturgeon ever gets her way”.

He added: “For the historic Royal Bank of Scotland to be forced to leave Scotland in the event of the break-up of Britain would be devastating.

“Sturgeon has confirmed she will hold another damaging and divisive referendum if the SNP get a majority which is why it has never been more important to back the Scottish Conservatives as the only party with the strength to stop her.”

Liberal Democrat treasury spokesperson and Edinburgh West MP Christine Jardine warned losing the HQ of RBS would have a significant impact on employment throughout Scotland and would make the country less attractive for big firms to base themselves.

She also lashed out at the SNP over its relentless pursuit of independence, particularly following a year when businesses have had to battle back against disruption caused by Brexit and the coronavirus pandemic.

Ms Jardine said: “When it comes to business in Scotland, RBS is one of the crown jewels as well as a major source of employment in my constituency and across the country.

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“These comments make clear that an independent Scotland would be less appealing for major firms to make their home here.

“The past year has been terrible for businesses so frankly, I’m appalled that the SNP want to pile the chaos of independence on top of the disruption caused by Brexit and the pandemic.”

Pamela Nash, chief executive of pro-UK campaign group Scotland in Union, warned losing the RBS HQ to London would be a “hammer blow for the country’s reputation as a place to invest and work”.

She warned an independent Scottish economy would be gambling with people’s livelihoods by scrapping the pound and building a border with England while calling on the SNP to “drop its obsession with a divisive and reckless referendum”.

Ms Nash said: “As part of the UK, Scotland has a thriving financial services industry, providing high-quality jobs and income.

“Losing the RBS HQ to London would be a hammer blow for the country’s reputation as a place to invest and work.

“As a new and smaller economy, a separate Scotland would be at greater risk of shocks, and we would be gambling with people’s livelihoods by scrapping the pound and building a border with England.

“The last thing our economy needs as we enter the Covid recovery period is more uncertainty, which is why the SNP should drop its obsession with a divisive and reckless referendum.”

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