Vince on Scottish independence: RBS would ‘inevitably’ move to London

It’s not often we hear from the Lib Dem business secretary Vince Cable on constitutional matters. But today he appeared before Parliament’s Business, Innovation and Skills Committee to discuss the implications for business of Scottish independence, ahead of September’s referendum. Here’s what he said (via the BBC):

RBS would “inevitably” move its headquarters to London if Scotland votes for independence, UK Business Secretary Vince Cable has claimed. Mr Cable told a committee of MPs that the bank would want to be based where it was “protected against the risk of collapse”. …

William Bain, Labour MP for Glasgow North East, asked the business secretary what RBS might do if the Bank of England was no longer its “lender of last resort”.

Mr Cable said: “I think if you were managing RBS you would almost certainly want to be in a domicile where your bank is protected against the risk of collapse. I think they already have a substantial amount of their management in London and I would have thought that inevitably they would become a London bank.”

In 2008, the UK government bailed out RBS with £46bn of public funds. The move left taxpayers owning around 80% of RBS, which was founded in Edinburgh in 1727.

The business secretary also disputed any proposed currency union between an independent Scotland and the rest of the UK, a week after Bank of England governor Mark Carney said an independent Scotland may have to cede some sovereignty in order to make it work.

Mr Cable argued: “The logic of what the governor and other people have spelled out is that the problems of a currency union with an independent Scotland are so difficult, so tricky, that it would almost certainly prove to be in Scotland’s interests – and indeed the rest of the UK – that Scotland did have its own currency.”

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  • Martin Lowe 5th Feb '14 - 11:00pm

    If Vince Cable is going to talk about RBS, perhaps he can tell us why his department has done nothing about RBS’s Global Restructuring Group (which is heavily implicated in ruining solvent businesses in order to profit from their assets as chief creditor).

  • Martin Lowe 6th Feb '14 - 8:22am

    …despite sitting on this information for over eighteen months?

  • Paul In Twickenham 7th Feb '14 - 1:42am

    In 2007 Iceland was essentially a hedge fund with a small country attached to it. If Scotland voted for independence and kept RBS then it would be a highly-leveraged and indebted bank with a small country attached to it. In the implausible eventuality of a “yes” vote it’s inevitable that RBS would end up domiciled in England. But I have no idea what that has to do with Scottish independence or the status of a post-independence currency.

  • So if Scotland had been independent prior to the crash RBS would have been an rUK bank. Makes sense of course as the vast majority of it’s customers and staff are based in England. But doesn’t this show up one of the unionists favourite scare stories – that an independent Scotland would have been sunk by the collapse of RBS – for a load of old nonsense?

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