Keith Brown reveals business considering idea of independent Scotland in EU

Written by Jenni Davidson on 14 October 2016 in News

Economy secretary Keith Brown said that a number of businesses were looking at the possibility Scotland remaining in the EU as part of their scenario planning

Businesses that previously were opposed to independence are now considering whether an independent Scotland could be better than a UK outside of Europe, economy secretary Keith Brown revealed last night.

He said businesses that were “vehemently” against independence in 2014 are considering whether an independent Scotland remaining in the EU could provide the certainty they need.

Brown was speaking at a CBI-sponsored fringe event at the SNP conference on the subject of business growth after Brexit.


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He said: “There seems to me to be something of a change just now, and it’s not true for all businesses and it’s not true to the same extent, where a number of businesses are looking at what, in their various scenario planning that they do, they’re looking at the possibility that we do have an independent Scotland within the bounds of the EU and whether that provides a certainty – even though it would be uncertain to get to that point – whether that provides a certainty they may want to look [at].

“So I can tell you…there are business which were pretty vehemently No last time are looking at that amongst the other options.”

Asked whether an independent Scotland in the EU would be a more attractive proposition for the whisky industry, operations director at whisky producer Edrington Group Graham Hutcheon said: “Hypothetical, but if the trade agreements are in place, the trade agreements are in place. If they’re not, you’ve got to renegotiate them. You can work it out from there.”

CBI UK director general Caroline Fairbairn said that independence was a decision for the Scottish people.

“I’m not just saying that, I really mean that,” she said.

If there was a decision to hold another independence referendum the CBI would consult its members again, she said.

The business organisation campaigned for the UK to stay in the EU on economic grounds, but Fairbairn said she recognised that there were other reasons such as sovereignty that people might have voted to leave.

“We were very clear we were making the economic case, we thought that was our duty and our obligation as the representatives of business, to lay the facts out as clearly as we could, recognising people could make other decisions based on factors to do with sovereignty, security and other factors,” she said.

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