Scottish independence: Business figures say 'Yes' vote would benefit economy

Alex Salmond praises pro-independence business letter

More than 200 business figures have signed an open letter backing Scottish independence.

Stagecoach chairman Sir Brian Souter and Clyde Blowers boss Jim McColl are among signatories who say independence is in Scotland's economic interest.

It comes a day after a similar letter from 130 pro-UK business leaders said the case for independence had not been made.

The pro-independence letter has been published in The Herald newspaper.

Other signatories include Ralph Topping, retired chief executive of William Hill, Professor Nathu Puri, founder of Purico, former Scottish Enterprise chairman Sir Donald Mackay and former RBS chairman Sir George Mathewson.

'Huge resources'

The letter stated: "An independent Scotland will recognise entrepreneurs small and large as the real wealth and job creators of the nation's economic future.

"It will encourage a culture in which innovation, endeavour and enterprise are nurtured. It will place power in the hands of Scotland's people to channel the huge resources of our country in the interests of those who live and work here."

The letter went on to argue that the real threat to Scotland was the "real possibility of a British exit from the European common market".

The letter was a response to one which appeared in the Scotsman newspaper on Wednesday, signed by more than 130 business figures who argued the case for independence had not been made.

The pro-Union signatories, who included the head of engineering firm Weir Group, warned of "substantial risks" if there is a "Yes" vote in the referendum.

First Minister Alex Salmond welcomed the pro-independence letter, which he said had been signed by some of the nation's "leading job and wealth creators".

'Biggest decision'

He added: "What impressed me most about this letter - signed by businesses large and small and from north, south and across the country - was the positivity in which some of our greatest businesses regard Scotland's prospects as an independent country.

"I was also heartened by their focus on a fairer society - something we are not likely to see coming from the No campaign or David Cameron.

"People's jobs are at the heart of this referendum campaign as people want to know that Scotland will get the powers that will attract investment and create employment opportunities."

But the Better Together campaign, which opposes independence, claimed many businesses were "afraid" to speak out against independence.

It followed allegations in the Telegraph newspaper that some business figures who wanted to sign the pro-UK letter had stayed silent because they feared "consequences" from the SNP government.

Labour MP and shadow business minister Ian Murray said: "With postal ballots being filled out across the country and polling day itself is a matter of days away it is deeply troubling that people still feel they cannot air their view of what is best for Scotland for fear of the wrath of Alex Salmond.

"We are about to make the biggest decision of our lifetime. There will be no going back and yet still, people feel they cannot speak out against Alex Salmond's unanswered questions."

Scotland will go to the polls in the referendum on 18 September, with voters being asked the "Yes/No" question: "Should Scotland be an independent country?"

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