Thomas Cook CEO warns UK over referendum uncertainty

LONDON, March 21 Fri Mar 21, 2014 11:46am EDT

LONDON, March 21 (Reuters) - Holiday firm Thomas Cook has become the latest British firm to warn about the uncertainty caused by a referendum on Scottish independence, with its chief executive also voicing concerns over a possible UK poll on EU membership in 2017.

"There are two political uncertainties that are most unsettling for business. The first is the Scottish referendum and the second is the European referendum. Both create massive uncertainty," Harriet Green told the Huffington Post.

Green adds her voice to the growing number of business leaders who have entered the debate over Scottish independence and EU membership, warning that they both create uncertainty for companies in the world's sixth-largest economy.

Warnings over the Scottish poll have come from the bosses of oil giants BP and Shell, as well as financial services heavyweights Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), Standard Life, and Barclays.

Scotland will vote on whether to end its three centuries of union with England in September, while Prime Minister David Cameron has promised to hold an "in-out" referendum on British membership of the EU if he is re-elected next year.

Green said the prospect of the EU vote was a threat to both investment and jobs in Britain, and added that exit could make holidays more expensive for British consumers.

Carmakers Ford and Nissan, financial services firms and Airbus are among the firms that have urged Britain to stay in the EU.

Thomas Cook employs 27,000 people across 17 countries, and sells consumers in countries such as Britain and Germany holidays in other EU-member states as well as other places. (Reporting by Sarah Young; Editing by Mark Potter)

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