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Hot topic: Scottish independence, part two


What impact would a ‘Yes for independence’ vote have on employers in Scotland? Would it lead to greater freedom, or a potential talent drain? In part two of this Hot Topic Kevin Hague argues for the Union.

The Union has existed for 307 years and this is a one-way ticket: if the Scots vote for independence there’s no going back.

I’m founder and CEO of ecommerce company M8 Group and we’ve thrived serving the UK market from a Scottish base. We employ 98 people and have featured as a Sunday Times Fast Track 100 company.

A simple factual observation: if Scotland becomes independent then the remainder of the UK becomes an export market. That means our addressable domestic market shrinks by 90%.

Now I have no fear of export markets, but export trade (particularly B2C trade) involves complexities and contingent risks that domestic trade is immune from. Two obvious headline examples are currency and trade barriers, such as EU membership.

There isn’t room here to cover all the arguments but we can summarise a couple of major points. First, there is a risk that over time an independent Scotland will end up using a different currency than the rest of the UK. And there is a chance that either Scotland or the rest of UK may be in the EU, and the other out.

To protect our businesses against these risks we would relocate our operations to where 90% of our sales go. Jobs would move from an independent Scotland to the rest of the UK.  We’re not unusual; a recent Treasury report estimated that 10% of Scottish jobs dependent on trade from the rest of the UK would be “in danger”. The financial services and defence sectors have been highlighted as particularly susceptible.

Polls consistently suggest it will be a ‘No’ vote but if it is ‘Yes’ then it will have major effects, not least for HR professionals and other business leaders.

Kevin Hague is founder and CEO of M8 Group 

For part one, click here