Top Scottish engineering firms such as GEC, Yarrow and Scottish Power are among many companies which believe independence for Scotland would harm business.
A recent Mori poll for the Scottish Industry Forum, an independent business organisation, revealed that 75 of 100 top businesses in Scotland felt independence, rather than a devolved Parliament, would be bad for business. Just 6% of the firms surveyed felt independence might improve the business environment.
Industry chiefs, including GECboss George Simpson, have also spoken out against independence, claiming that separation from the rest of the UK would ‘jeopardise the world’s strongest single market’.
Mori surveyed 400 firms and the 100 respondents all took part anonymously. Most of the companies had a turnover in Scotland of more than £25m and 40% employed over 500 people in Scotland.
The industrial and manufacturing sector was the biggest represented, with 15% of respondents, while engineering and electronics represented a further 12%.
The results of the survey are a blow to the Scottish National Party (SNP), which wants an independent Scotland. Mining millionaire Donald MacLeod, chairman of the pro-SNP Business for Scotland group, said independence would mean not isolation but ‘integration in the global economy’. He called for greater informed debate on the issue.
Most anti-independence firms said separatism was a likely obstacle to trade with the rest of the UK and Europe. Most of Scotland’s trade is with the rest of the UK and many businesses are worried that extra costs and barriers to trade could occur as a result of tax or other regulatory regimes arising from an independent Scotland.
Scottish Industry Forum chairman Edward Cunningham said he hoped all the political leaders would take note of the survey findings. ‘The benefits of independence have to be detailed and all Scottish MPs must work with us to create the right climate,’ he said.