JOHN SWINNEY COMMENT ON STANDARD LIFE

Responding to today’s comments on the referendum from Standard Life, Finance Secretary John Swinney said:

“Standard Life’s comments show exactly why our proposals for a formal currency area are the right proposals, why they are in the best interests of business on both sides of the border and why that is what will be implemented by both governments.

“This also shows why the UK Government have a duty to engage properly with the issues instead of issuing irresponsible threats. The Governor of the Bank of England has already agreed to further technical discussions with the Scottish Government on a currency union, and there is no reason the Treasury cannot do likewise.

“If the people of Scotland exercise their democratic right to vote Yes in the referendum, it is incumbent on the UK Government to respect the terms of the Edinburgh Agreement, to which the Prime Minister is a signatory.

“The UK Government are engaged in a systematic campaign of bluff, bluster and bullying, but we have already seen the UK Government accept that it will remain legally liable for all UK debt, and the PM offer his support for Scotland’s membership of the EU – the issue of currency will be no different.

“In terms of Scotland’s position in Europe, an independent Scotland will remain in the EU, and the biggest threat to that membership comes from Westminster’s proposed in-out referendum.

“The way to provide clarity and certainty is through common sense, mature discussions which will take place in the 18 months following a Yes vote – and technical discussions could and should take place now, similar to the on-going technical discussions with the Bank of England.

“Scotland has a strong and diverse economy and the point of independence is to win the powers we need to build on those strengths and create a more prosperous and secure economy – which is good for the financial sector and everyone else.

“When Standard Life previously expressed concerns about the consequences of devolution, these concerns ultimately proved to be unfounded and the company has successfully continued to grow its business here, underlined by the announcement just this month of a £75 million acquisition in central Edinburgh described as a ‘long-term investment’. Standard Life’s strengths lie in its workforce here in Scotland. We are very happy to engage with the company to address the issues raised in their annual report, and we look forward to the company continuing to play its part in building that strong Scottish economy in the future.”

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