- 7 updates
Scottish finance minister John Swinney has responded to Standard Life's revelation that they would relocate parts of its operations to England if an independent Scotland "were to threaten" its business:
Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander has said that the risks of Scottish independence are "becoming ever clearer". He said: "What we've seen today with Standard Life and RBS are the risks of independence becoming ever clearer."
He added: "It’s common-sense that when you have something that works there will be adverse consequences if you rip it apart. The strength and stability of the United Kingdom is the essential underpinning of Scotland’s successful financial services sector over several centuries.
"These businesses are reasonably and fairly setting out the consequences of the SNP’s dangerous, risky, and unclear plans for independence. I doubt they’ll be the last.”
First Minister Alex Salmond said Standard Life "will find Scotland a good place to do business" after the firm warned of contingency plans to relocate if an independent Scotland "were to threaten" its business.
Speaking during First Minister's Questions, Mr Salmond said: "That will happen first and foremost because of the excellence of the staff that's its prime asset.
"The Scottish Government puts forward the concept of a shared currency and regulatory framework, which is exactly the sort of thing that Standard Life have been calling for."
He asked, "Given the importance of Scotland as a good place which to run a business ... can this chamber not unite and have confidence that an independent Scotland and a Scotland under any constitutional framework will be exactly that?"
The Deputy Prime Minister has said Standard Life's announcement "doesn't surprise me" because of uncertainty over issues such as currency and EU membership of an independent Scotland.
Nick Clegg Clegg told BBC Radio 5 Live: "Because of the failure of the SNP to prepare for this moment and spell out what they mean by independence, it is no wonder that major employers are saying 'Maybe we can't continue with our presence north of the border'."
"I think it's right for businesses to answer questions for themselves about their own business and address themselves to their own workforce, because there are thousands of people who work for Standard Life who want to know 'What does it mean for my future..."
Standard Life's announcement today will resonate for two reasons.
Firstly, it is a huge employer in Scotland, with 5,000 staff based there - they will now be concerned for the future of their jobs.
But more than that, it is a hugely significant blow to the pro-independence "Yes" campaign.
A company with almost two hundred years of proud Scottish history says it is making plans to move parts of its business south, so concerned are they about the implications of a split in the union.
It is a real, tangible sign to undecided voters that things will change (and jobs will go) if the country splits.
Alex Salmond is a master political tactician, and he will argue that the benefits of independence will outweigh the downsides, but even he will find it tricky to spin this as anything other than a serious dent in his ambitions.
Standard Life's chief executive has said a number of issues related to Scottish independence "remain uncertain" as the firm confirmed it is considering plans to leave the country.
In a statement, David Nish said: "For this reason, we have engaged with key politicians and analysed the relevant papers published by both sides of the independence debate.
Mr Nish said "we believe a number of material issues remain uncertain", including:
- The currency that an independent Scotland would use
- Whether agreement and ratification of an independent Scotland’s membership to the European Union would be achieved by the target date (currently 24 March 2016)
- The shape and role of the monetary system
- The arrangements for financial services regulation and consumer protection in an independent Scotland
- The approach to individual taxation
The pensions and savings firm Standard Life has outlined contingency plans to leave Scotland if Scotland votes for independence and "if anything were to threaten" its business.
In a statement, chairman Gerry Grimstone said: "Scotland has been a good place from which to run our business and to compete around the world. We very much hope that this can continue.
"But if anything were to threaten this, we will take whatever action we consider necessary – including transferring parts of our operations from Scotland – in order to ensure continuity and to protect the interests of our stakeholders."
The firm said it has 189 years of "proud heritage" in Scotland.