Scotland: Bank Jobs And Higher Prices Warning

Scottish shoppers have been warned by major retailers they face higher prices if they vote for independence next week.

Asda and John Lewis said the increased costs of operating in an independent Scotland would inevitably be passed on to the consumer.

Their warnings come after banks and insurers said they would head for the exit door were Scotland to break away from the rest of the UK.

A day of bad news for the Yes campaign continued when the International Monetary Fund (IMF) said a vote for independence could have a negative effect on the markets in the short-term because of “uncertainty”.

On the potential rise in costs for consumers if Scotland left the UK, Asda CEO Andy Clarke said: “If we were no longer to operate in one state with one market and – broadly – one set of rules, our business model would inevitably become more complex. We would have to reflect our cost to operate here.

“This is not an argument for or against independence, it is simply an honest recognition of the costs that change could bring. For us the customer is always right and this important decision is in their hands.”

Asda has 61 stores and depots and serves two million customers each week in Scotland.

Mr Clarke’s comments came shortly after John Lewis chairman Sir Charlie Mayfield warned a vote for independence would come with “consequences”.

He said: “From a business perspective there will be economic consequences to a Yes vote, not just in uncertainty but some of the turmoil we are hearing about.

“And it is also the case that it does cost more money to trade in parts of Scotland and therefore those hard costs, in the event of a Yes vote, are more likely to be passed on.”

Former prime minister Gordon Brown said Scotland’s First Minister, Alex Salmond, could not continue to ignore the warnings of retailers, oil companies and the financial services sector.

He said: “John Lewis has warned about prices and many other supermarkets are going to say the same. The oil companies have warned about cuts in investment, which will affect jobs in Scotland.”

A day to relish for the No campaign started when RBS, which has been based in Scotland since 1727 and employs 11,500 people there, confirmed it would be moving its headquarters to London if Scotland voted for independence.

RBS said it had made the decision because there were a “number of material uncertainties arising from the Scottish referendum vote which could have a bearing on the bank’s credit ratings”.

Mr Salmond has said the move would not affect jobs. However, it is widely expected it would mean some redundancies.

He demanded the Government investigated a “Treasury leak” of the RBS plans to the press on Wednesday night, before the official announcement was made on Thursday morning.

In a letter to David Cameron, Mr Salmond called on the Prime Minister to explain “what appears to be a deliberate attempt to cause uncertainty in the financial markets”.

Clydesdale Bank has also confirmed it would be re-registering in England if voters opted for independence, and Standard Life, which employs 5,000 in Scotland, said it would move some operations south of the border.

Meanwhile, more than 4.2 million people have registered to vote in the referendum. This equates to 97% of the electorate – the highest figure since 1984.

A Survation survey poll found 53% of Scottish people were expected to vote no to independence, while 47% would vote yes – this was unchanged from August 28.

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11 September 2014 | 7:23 pm – Source:

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