Scottish independence: Telecoms groups set to warn of cost rises if 'yes' vote triumphs

It is understood that a statement could be released as early as this afternoon

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The Independent Online

Some of the UK’s largest telecoms groups are set to join forces to warn the public that a successful yes vote in next week’s Scottish referendum would increase their costs.

Telecoms companies, including BT, EE, TalkTalk and Vodafone, are discussing a joint statement about “the inevitability of cost increases” for operators.

It is understood that a statement could be released as early as this afternoon.

The talks are reportedly being led by CBI. The group’s president, Sir Mike Rake, is also the chairman of BT Group and director-general John Cridland is also said to be involved.

The decision has been sparked by on-going uncertainties about regulation and which currency Scotland would adopt in the result of independence.

Video: Scottish independence explained

The news was first reported by Sky News. A telecoms industry executive told the broadcaster: “It doesn't take a genius to work out that that would translate into price rises.

“You are talking about a market of 5m people rather than 62m, a new regulator and even possibly a price freeze. How could prices not go up?”

However, it is believed that some of the companies involved are anxious about wading into the political debate, which could impact upon whether a statement is released or not.

If one is issued, the telecoms groups would join a host of prominent businesses that have already spoken out about Scottish independence.

Earlier today, JD Wetherspoon chairman Tim Martin dismissed predictions that Scotland will face a decade of uncertainty if it votes for independence as “nonsense”.

But John Lewis chief Sir Charlie Mayfield has warned that independence could push up prices in Scotland.

And The Lloyds Banking Group, which includes Halifax and Bank of Scotland, has warned that it has plans to set up new "legal entities" in England if the two countries separate. The Royal Bank of Scotland, which has operated out of Scotland since 1727, has also warned that it may re-domicile in London.

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