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Scottish financiers back independence as means of staying in EU

Britain RBS

(Reuters) - A group of Scottish financiers came out in support of independence on Thursday to counter a flood of warnings over Scotland going it alone, cautioning that staying within the United Kingdom could mean losing European Union membership.

George Mathewson, former head of the Royal Bank of Scotland and chairman of Toscafund, and five other current and former Scottish financial players raised the possible risks of remaining in the United Kingdom in a letter to a newspaper.

Their positive view of a solo Scotland comes after a string of banks and financial services companies raised concerns over a vote for independence at a referendum on September 18, citing uncertainty over the currency, regulation and EU membership.

Mathewson, a longstanding supporter of independence who has criticized the UK government for using "fear" tactics to sway voters, and his co-signatories said not enough consideration had been given to the risks of a No vote, such as EU membership.

British Prime Minister David Cameron, faced with eurosceptic factions in his Conservative party and voters defecting to the anti-EU UK Independence Party (UKIP), has promised to hold a referendum on whether Britain should stay in the EU by the end of 2017.

"In the case of Scotland after a No vote, there is no clear plan for or certainty around taxation, regulation or the wider business operating environment, and no guarantee of continued EU membership," the financiers wrote in the letter to the Financial Times, stressing these views were personal.

"There are certainly opportunities to attract more jobs and investment to Scotland with the powers of independence and significant opportunities in an independent Scotland for financial services."

CURRENCY BATTLE

Other signatories were Angus Tulloch of fund manager First State, James Scott, a former director of industry group Scottish Financial Enterprise, Frank McKirgan, founder of MLI Partners, David Simpson, a former economic adviser at Standard Life, and Jim Spowart, founder of Standard Life Bank.

Tulloch declined to comment beyond the contents of the letter, saying it was "personal".

Scotland's future in the EU has become a major issue in the independence debate, with questions raised over whether the 28-member bloc would allow Scotland to join and in time between a Yes vote in September and going independent in March 2016.

The support for ending Scotland's 307-year tie to England follows a string of companies warning about the potential impact of Scottish independence on the financial sector that accounts for 12.5 percent of Scottish GDP and up to 150,000 jobs.

Blackrock Inc., the world's largest money manager, was the most recent to speak out, warning this week independence could raise regulatory costs for banks and insurers that could move operations to England to avoid paying additional fees to a new Scottish regulator.

Rising numbers of companies have gone public with their views as opinion polls show support for independence rising.

A YouGov poll on Wednesday showed support for independence rising two percentage points over the past month to 37 percent, while opposition to a split fell one point to 52 percent.

The poll of 1,072 people found 10 percent of voters remain undecided.

A row over the currency has taken center stage in the debate in recent months, with the Scottish National Party (SNP) wanting to retain the pound in a currency union with the rest of the United Kingdom but the main British parties rejecting this.

But a YouGov poll on Thursday found 45 percent of Scots believed finance minister George Osborne was bluffing. Only 40 percent think he was being truthful when he said Scotland leaves the pound if it quits the United Kingdom.

(Reporting by Belinda Goldsmith; Editing by Sophie Hares)

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1000|Char. 1000  Char.
rrich34621 March 28 2014 at 3:18 AM

Become independant? Leave Great Brittain and become a member of The EU which is pretty worthless and no longer has any influence or power over the economy or bullies such as Putin! If you would like an excellent example of how valuable and what power The EU has over it's members, keep your eye on Putin, The Russians and the UK! Putin, "THE EU? WHAT'S THE EU??? SOUNDS LIKE SOMETHING YOU'D HAVE SEX WITH ON A SATURDAY NIGHT AFTER DRINKING TO MUCH STOLI LOL!" You want to break away from England and end your 307 year old relationship, instead of joining THE EU, just send Putin a letter, I'm sure he'd be more than happy to expand his "RUSSIAN EMPIRE", after all, if something doesn't happen soon, Scotland may not have to worry about breaking free from Great Brittain, the 80,000 or more Russian Soldiers at the border of the UK just may have plans to keep on marching and taking over nation after nation until one day the great people of Scotland wake up with 80,000 or more Russian Soldiers knocking on their doors with guns and saying, "YOU BELONG TO RUSSIA NOW"! Don't laugh, it could happen....can you say HITLER?????? I knew you could ;-) Have a great weekend! Peace

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now and then March 27 2014 at 2:12 PM

Scotland doesn't need the class system that has been dragging down England like in India. It doesn't need all those graduates who's only aim is to secure a civil servant job. It doesn't need the slow, lazy English way of doing business. Scotland's needs to be free of those drags.

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1 reply
cmr256 now and then March 27 2014 at 2:31 PM

Oh! so true. They give positions in industry and business away based on one's ancestry even if the
so call award of a top job is given to an idiot with an IQ of 80. As a result of their(England) class consceious
attitude Scotland does indeed have to be laden under the burden of England's mistake. Let the Scottish people have courage and not be influenced by these "fear" mongers. Reminds me of religious times in
the Midieval Era when the Church ruled all the peasants with an indoctrination of fear or else you will
be branded a "heretic" and get burned at the stake.

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2 replies
now and then cmr256 March 27 2014 at 2:46 PM

I'm very glad you pointed out so clearly the problem with English business leadership, ruled by ancestry, not quality. And yes, still using fear on the Scottish people to bring them into line, the old trick.

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Iselin007 cmr256 March 27 2014 at 2:52 PM

Hey I take offense to that! My ancestor is said to be Robert the son of Walchelin as listed in the Domesday book of 1086.

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YourFtr March 27 2014 at 1:17 PM

'Scotland Forever !' by Lady Butler.......

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ambonding March 27 2014 at 1:15 PM

I think Scotland should be independant . Beatuiful country and great people.....FREEDOM!!!!!!!!

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hifie March 27 2014 at 1:01 PM

Not surprised about George Mathewson support for the seperations support. Mathewson was the Head of The Royal Bank of Scotland during the crisis of 2008 when they were lambasted for misdeeds that cost RBS billions of dollars. He thought they should have to repay investor a pitance and the it should only be large deep pocket investors that benefited. The recent decision in December of 2013 the allows several thousand small investors to recover almost 7 billion is fees could leave big stock holders like Mathewson feeling the pinch. RBS could show a loss, as in the RED, for 2014.

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Gary March 27 2014 at 12:47 PM

The English have a history of using Scotland for their own gains, relegating Scots and the beautiful Scottish countryside as hunting andfishing estates, diverting Scottish resouces to English purposes and raping the rich homeland. They've disbanded the proud regiments, and consistently over the centuries left Scotland hurting. It's time for Scottish interests and Scottish industry to live under Scottish governance.

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twntydasystoo March 27 2014 at 12:40 PM

Don't blame them - FREEDOM!!!!

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Eileen March 27 2014 at 12:33 PM

Good luck to them, but to be totally independent do not expect the UK to do anything to get you there, this is your decision.........also, every country has there own currency so you should and if you also noticed the banks are not wanting to pay the tax that will be imposed on them, so there are a lot of things that need to be considered.

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tippywicks March 27 2014 at 12:08 PM

Wether or not it would be good for Scotland or England I do not know. But I do know this. Every monarch of Great Britain since James I of England and James VI of Scotland (same Monarch) has been a descendant of Mary, Queen of Scotts. Mary had an arguably better claim to the throne of England than Elizabeth I and thus Elizabeth had her beheaded on supicious charges after many years of captivity in England. It is ironic that Elizabeth left the throne to James VI of Scotland, the son of Mary, Queen of Scotts. Mary was an educated woman but not a wise woman. Elizabeth knew she was possibly not the rightful heir and thus declared James VI of Scotland her rightful heir before her death. Both of them were descendants of Henry Tudor, King Henry the VII of England. Mary got revenge even in death.

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Rayce March 27 2014 at 2:16 PM

Pro Libertate!!!! Scotland stands united for an independent and free country. William Wallace would be very proud. Slante!!!!

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1 reply
cmr256 Rayce March 27 2014 at 2:27 PM

I agree! He would be very proud. Mary Stuart

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