BCC UK on Scottish Referendum Result

By John Longworth, Director General, British Chambers of Commerce, UK

 
 
“The people of Scotland have spoken. Their historic decision to remain part of the United Kingdom will be a relief to many businesspeople and a disappointment to others, but it was a decision for the Scottish people alone to make.
 
“The companies I speak to are clear that this cannot simply be the first in a series of referenda, until one side or the other gets the result that it wants. Business and investment prospects across the UK would be deeply hurt by a Quebec-style ‘neverendum’ – a lesson that politicians must heed.
 
“Yet businesspeople across the UK have long known that the referendum would be the start, rather than the end, of a process of change. Businesses will now expect Westminster and Holyrood to reach a devolution settlement that is clear, fair to both sides, and swiftly executed.
 
“Businesses want greater devolution of power to be accompanied by greater devolution of finance, so that Scotland, and the rest of the United Kingdom, take responsibility for their respective tax and spending decisions. English, Welsh and Northern Irish businesses and taxpayers should not be subsidising support or incentives for their Scottish counterparts – nor the other way around.
 
“Any devolution deal for Scotland should trigger a new debate on local autonomy in England, where businesspeople in many areas want more freedom from Westminster and more influences over how their taxes are spent. Local businesses deserve a say in how a new, less centralized UK is governed in future.
 
“We have been through a period of disruption. Creative disruption can be galvanizing to countries, just as it is to businesses. It is up to the leaders of our nations now to make sure this is the result. Our United Kingdom now has the opportunity to define a future direction that stimulates growth and prosperity as never before – and for us together to make our way in the world, firmly on our own two feet."
     
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