James Moore: Scotland could lose out whether it’s Yes or No

  • @TheIndyBusiness

Outlook It was inevitable that Sir Martin Sorrell would be asked to opine on Scottish independence alongside WPP’s results.

Choosing his words carefully, he described it as another of those uncertainties that give businesses headaches and require plans to be put in place to respond.

Some businesses, he warned, could reduce their presence north of the border as a result of a Yes vote, although he was quick to add that others might grow theirs.

The problem for Scotland’s economy is that the most likely result is the worst of all worlds, at least from the standpoint of its business community.

A close No vote holds out the prospect of a second poll at some point down the line (as happened with Quebec which held two in 15 years). To mitigate risks, businesses will likely make their plans with that in mind.

That isn’t so much of an issue when it comes to WPP. A second referendum would provide a second payday for the media, advertising and PR industries.

The more serious issue is what others do, such as the big, Scottish-based financial-services firms, already jittery because of their reliance on business south of the border.

The concern for the Scottish establishment must be that these companies press ahead with contingency plans formulated to cope with a Yes vote (such as quietly moving bits and pieces south) if there is a close No.

In England there’s only the relationship with the EU to worry about (which could lead to yet more referenda), a potentially dangerous housing bubble in London, and the prospect of interest rate rises. The thing about uncertainty is that it is the name of the game wherever businesses go right now. As is complaining about it.