LONDON — Alex Salmond, the former first minister of Scotland, said Edinburgh will bid to wrench finance jobs from London if Scotland votes to leave the UK.
Salmond also said Scotland could issue its own currency, rather than keep the British pound, in an interview with the Financial Times.
“Ireland and Paris and everybody and their auntie is [sic] currently queueing up to secure some of the London business. Well, you can add Edinburgh to that list,” Salmond, who campaigned unsuccessfully for Scottish independence in 2014, said.
British Prime Minister Theresa May has made it clear that she plans to take Britain out of the European single market as part of Brexit, potentially damaging London’s role as a financial centre.
HSBC, JPMorgan, and UBS have all warned about job relocations. Jamie Dimon, CEO of JPMorgan Chase, told Bloomberg at Davos that the bank will likely move more people than previously thought. “It looks like there will be more job movement than we hoped for,” Dimon said. The bank employs 16,000 people in the UK.
Unlike the wider UK, Scots voted to remain in the EU by 62% to 38% in last June’s Brexit referendum. Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said on Monday that she intends to call a referendum at some point between Autumn 2018 and Spring 2019.
Salmond said that he was confident that Scots would vote to leave the UK and maintain links with the EU. “The question of continuity that matters is continuity within the single marketplace, the European Economic Area,” Salmond said. “Don’t underestimate the reservoir of goodwill that Scotland has now.”
Scottish independence has never been so popular, according to a survey by research company ScotCen, but support for the European Union, which Scotland will aim to join if it leaves the UK, has never been lower.
Support for independence has doubled from 23% in 2012 to 46% in 2016, according to ScotCen’s Scottish Attitudes Survey, published on Thursday.
Meanwhile, 67% of Scottish voters hold Eurosceptic views — saying that Scotland should leave the EU or that the bloc’s powers should be reduced — up from 60% from the year before.
Theresa May on Thursday announced her intention to block a second Scottish independence referendum before Britain has left the EU. The prime minister told Sturgeon that “now is not the time” to hold a referendum as it would “not be fair” to expect the Scottish people to vote again when the UK’s future relationship with EU is still unclear.
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