RBS, Lloyds to move to London if Scotland votes Yes
Insurer Standard Life also considering relocating if Scotland votes for independence
Edinburgh bakery Cuckoos which launched their own Scottish referendum opinion poll survey with cupcakes. Photograph: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire
Two of the United Kingdom’s biggest banks - the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) and Lloyds - have said they will consider shifting their headquarters from Edinburgh to London if Scotland votes for independence.
Insurer Standard Life said yesterday that it had registered companies in London which it could use to shift some of its operations south if there is uncertainty in the aftermath of a Yes vote.
Last night, nerves in the No camp settled somewhat in the wake of an opinion poll that showed it still held a six percentage points lead, excluding undecided voters.
In a statement today, RBS said: “As set out in the risk disclosures in RBS’s annual report, there are a number of material uncertainties arising from the Scottish referendum vote which could have a bearing on the bank’s credit ratings, and the fiscal, monetary, legal and regulatory landscape to which it is subject.
“For this reason, RBS has undertaken contingency planning for the possible business implications of a yes vote. RBS believes that this is the responsible and prudent thing to do and something that its customers, staff and shareholders would expect it to do.
“As part of such contingency planning, RBS believes that it would be necessary to redomicile the bank’s holding company and its primary rated operating entity (The Royal Bank of Scotland plc) to England.
“ In the event of a yes vote, the decision to redomicile should have no impact on everyday banking services used by our customers throughout the British isles.
“However, RBS believes that it would be the most effective way to provide clarity to all our stakeholders and mitigate the risks previously identified in our annual report,” it added.
Clearly furious, Scottish first minister Alex Salmond claimed the RBS action had been “misreported” this morning by the BBC and that RBS’s move would have no impact on jobs.
RBS is already registered in London, but employs 11,500 people in Scotland - including thousands at its giant Gogarburn headquarters outside Edinburgh.
However, the bank - which was bailed out to the tune of billions by the British taxpayer and is still majority-owned by the treasury - insists that it will keep significant numbers of jobs in Scotland.
Business leaders are furious with prime minister David Cameron and other senior government figures for the campaign that has been fought to save the 300-year-old Union.
“This is the day the economic case for separation died and reality that independence will cost jobs, investment and growth dawned,” declared Liberal Democrats’ chief secretary to the treasury, Danny Alexander.
The difficulty now for Salmond is that he will shrill in the face of the onslaught from business leaders - though, equally, some Scots could react badly to the declarations.
A Daily Record/Survation poll put the No side ahead by 53 per cent to 47 per cent, unchanged from its last survey published on August 28th - which contradicts a series of other polls in recent days.
Yesterday, prime minister David Cameron came to Scotland and pleaded with Scots not to reject the Union even if they want to give the Conservatives “an effing kick”.