* Group of Scottish financiers emerge to back independence
* Warn staying with the UK could threaten EU membership
* Poll shows more Scots think row over the pound is "bluff"
By Belinda Goldsmith
LONDON, March 27 A group of Scottish financiers
came out in support of independence on Thursday to counter a
flood of warnings over Scotland going it alone, cautioning that
staying within the United Kingdom could mean losing European
George Mathewson, former head of the Royal Bank of Scotland
and chairman of Toscafund, and five other current and
former Scottish financial players raised the possible risks of
remaining in the United Kingdom in a letter to a newspaper.
Their positive view of a solo Scotland comes after a string
of banks and financial services companies raised concerns over a
vote for independence at a referendum on Sept. 18, citing
uncertainty over the currency, regulation and EU membership.
Mathewson, a longstanding supporter of independence who has
criticised the UK government for using "fear" tactics to sway
voters, and his co-signatories said not enough consideration had
been given to the risks of a No vote, such as EU membership.
British Prime Minister David Cameron, faced with eurosceptic
factions in his Conservative party and voters defecting to the
anti-EU UK Independence Party (UKIP), has promised to hold a
referendum on whether Britain should stay in the EU by the end
"In the case of Scotland after a No vote, there is no clear
plan for or certainty around taxation, regulation or the wider
business operating environment, and no guarantee of continued EU
membership," the financiers wrote in the letter to the Financial
Times, stressing these views were personal.
"There are certainly opportunities to attract more jobs and
investment to Scotland with the powers of independence and
significant opportunities in an independent Scotland for
Other signatories were Angus Tulloch of fund manager First
State, James Scott, a former director of industry group Scottish
Financial Enterprise, Frank McKirgan, founder of MLI Partners,
David Simpson, a former economic adviser at Standard Life
, and Jim Spowart, founder of Standard Life Bank.
Tulloch declined to comment beyond the contents of the
letter, saying it was "personal".
Scotland's future in the EU has become a major issue in the
independence debate, with questions raised over whether the
28-member bloc would allow Scotland to join and in time between
a Yes vote in September and going independent in March 2016.
The support for ending Scotland's 307-year tie to England
follows a string of companies warning about the potential impact
of Scottish independence on the financial sector that accounts
for 12.5 percent of Scottish GDP and up to 150,000 jobs.
Blackrock Inc., the world's largest money manager,
was the most recent to speak out, warning this week independence
could raise regulatory costs for banks and insurers that could
move operations to England to avoid paying additional fees to a
new Scottish regulator.
Rising numbers of companies have gone public with their
views as opinion polls show support for independence rising.
A YouGov poll on Wednesday showed support for independence
rising two percentage points over the past month to 37 percent,
while opposition to a split fell one point to 52 percent.
The poll of 1,072 people found 10 percent of voters remain
A row over the currency has taken centre stage in the debate
in recent months, with the Scottish National Party (SNP) wanting
to retain the pound in a currency union with the rest of the
United Kingdom but the main British parties rejecting this.
But a YouGov poll on Thursday found 45 percent of Scots
believed finance minister George Osborne was bluffing. Only 40
percent think he was being truthful when he said Scotland leaves
the pound if it quits the United Kingdom.
(Reporting by Belinda Goldsmith; Editing by Sophie Hares)