Scottish independence bid in tatters as RBS warned ‘we will move to England’

Nicola Sturgeon says there’s a ‘choice between two futures’

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Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has announced she is in talks with the pro-separation Scottish Greens over a co-operation deal to support her minority government and deliver another referendum. The SNP was just one seat short of an overall majority in Holyrood following this month’s Scottish elections, so support from other pro-independence parties could prove crucial. But the independence row is still dividing many in Scotland.

One of the key issues is the economic argument for independence, with various business leaders and think tanks warning it could be disastrous for Scotland.

In March, the Royal Bank of Scotland even warned it could move its headquarters to England.

The chief executive of the NatWest Group, Alison Rose, said that the bank’s balance sheet was too large for an “independent Scottish economy” while noting that the issue of an independent Scotland was one for the Scots to decide themselves.

The NatWest Group’s CEO told the Herald newspaper: “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.”

Meanwhile, Chief Executive of the pro-UK Scotland in Union campaign group, Pamela Nash, also warned the potential loss of the RBS HQ in Edinburgh would be a “hammer blow for the country’s reputation as a place to invest and work.”

She added: “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.”

This is not the first time that RBS has threatened to leave Edinburgh and move its headquarters south of the border.

In 2014, prior to the last Scottish referendum, the bank said that it had drawn up plans to move its head office out of Scotland in the event of Scottish independence.

Making the economic case for independence could be Ms Sturgeon’s toughest task, and she even admitted in April that the SNP’s previous blueprint for secession is now “out of date” due to Brexit and coronavirus.

She said: “The figures for the Growth Commission report predate Covid and we would have to take in the changes around Covid.

“While the underlying approach of the Growth Commission is one that I fully endorse and sign up to, the figures in it are completely out of date.

“Because in the period since that was published we’ve undergone a global pandemic, the fiscal position of the UK and most countries across the world has been turned upside down.”

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A poll published in March highlighted just how divided Scotland is on the monarchy.

A survey commissioned by Sky News found that 39 percent of voters would support the Royal Family retaining their traditional role if the UK was break-up, while 39 percent said a Scottish republic should be created – 22 percent said they didn’t know.

Support for the Queen and her successors is highest amongst those who would vote No at any future referendum, with 54 percent saying they backed the monarchy, 22 percent in favour of a republic, and 24 percent being undecided.

The idea of creating a republic north of the border was supported by 56 percent of Yes voters, with 30 percent backing the monarchy and 15 percent saying they don’t know.

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