Economics of Independence

Weir Group agree that Scotland has got what it takes to succeed as an independent country

_67524992_copper_welderToday the Weir Group released a constructive addition to the business debate on independence. The questions contained within the report can be answered based on economic evidence, and the opportunities that are highlighted strengthen the case for Scottish independence.

As an engineering company owner and a director of Business for Scotland, I agree with the report when it says an independent Scotland can succeed and that it’s in the interests of the rUK to ‘facilitate that success as far as possible.’

The report also accepts that once Scotland has the full fiscal levers we can shape policy to meet the “needs and circumstances” of the economy as well as cater for the “distinctive views and values” of those who live and work in Scotland.

These are the building blocks of a stronger economy with independence. Scotland, as a wealthy nation, has all the key attributes to be a successful, independent country. The referendum presents an opportunity for business in Scotland, especially in areas like engineering and manufacturing. After decades of industrial decline by design, Scotland can create an industrial policy that develops growth sectors such as renewable energy.

Opportunities to improve Scotland’s economy with independence

The report also refers to the demographic challenge of Scotland’s ageing population. This issue can only be addressed in an independent Scotland with control over migration policy. An independent migration policy for Scotland would bring substantial financial benefits – £65 billion pounds over future decades – and encourage young, skilled workers to stay and contribute to the economy.

Similarly, I have previously considered the question of borrowing costs which is raised in the report. Medium sized independent countries like Scotland have lower borrowing costs than the UK. The credit agency Standard & Poors previously reported that Scotland would merit a high “investment grade economy” status.

The S&P report said,

As the Weir report states, it will be in the interests of rUK as well as an independent Scotland that all parties work together after the referendum result. As Business for Scotland has been saying for some time now there will be a sterling area given the level of trade between the countries. Indeed the report talks about the implications of transaction costs if a currency union weren’t to be agreed.

This would mean rUK businesses incurring £500 million of transaction costs annually. As explained by Professor Anton Muscatelli in the Financial Times this week, a currency union would be best for all of Britain. The No Campaign position simply doesn’t add up – and recently a UK Government Minister conceded that “Of course there would be a currency union”.

This morning, on BBC Radio Scotland’s GMS programme, Weir Group Chief Executive Keith Cochrane stated the report pointed to there being benefits. He went on to say they were ‘uncertain’. As someone who has worked in manufacturing for 30 years no one does business on the basis of absolute certainty. Prior to Scottish devolution some business voices, including the Weir group itself, made similar comments about risk and uncertainty. Clearly history has shown the significant benefits of devolution to the Scottish economy and Scottish business. All the evidence shows that further benefits would be realised were Scotland to become Independent.


The Weir Group report says, “It is certainly possible for Scotland to foster a thriving economy as an independent nation”.

I am in no doubt that an independent Scotland will be positive for the economy and the wider community. It is the business opportunity of a lifetime.

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About the author

Gordon MacIntyre-Kemp

Gordon MacIntyre-Kemp is the Founder and Chief Executive of Business for Scotland. Before becoming CEO of Business for Scotland Gordon ran a business strategy and social media, sales & marketing consultancy.

With a degree in business, marketing and economics, Gordon has worked as an economic development planning professional, and in marketing roles specialising in pricing modelling and promotional evaluation for global companies (including P&G).

Gordon benefits (not suffers) from dyslexia, and is a proponent of the emerging New Economics School. Gordon contributes articles to Business for Scotland, The National and Believe in Scotland.


  • Whoever was on Radio 4 yesterday from the Wier Group most definitely did not sound positive about independence. Maybe the BBC are so biased now they just use impressionists so they can decide what the expert is going to say.

  • Are you refering to the report produced by Oxford Economics which appeared on the BBC News Scotland website yesterday?

    Here are quotes fom the BBc article:

    Scottish independence would carry “substantial risks” to the economy, the boss of one of Scotland’s biggest companies has claimed.

    Weir Group chief executive Keith Cochrane said the “quality of life of millions of people” was at stake.

    His comments came as a report for the engineering giant said a referendum “Yes” vote would create costs and uncertainties for business.

    An 80-page document, compiled by Oxford Economics for Weir Group said higher taxes for Scottish firms would be likely if there were a “Yes” vote in the 18 September independence referendum.

    Has the BBC been selective in its quotes from the report or am I a confused, swivel eyed , misguided Yes voter.

    • You must make up your own mind as to whether the media is being selective in its quotes – you could say we have reported its positive contents and they have not. News stories that are favourable to independence often don’t see the light of day but an attack on the concept of Yes will almost always generate a headline due the bias on the newspaper owners.

  • Reading the Weir group report, I found it seemed to lean a lot more towards the ‘risks and dangers’ than the positive potential of independence. However a quick Google search shows that Lord George Robertson, the Labour peer who has made his unionist position clear previously, is a non-executive director of the group.

  • Remind me, is this the same Weir group who were fined several millions over bribes to the Saddam regime in Iraq?

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