RBS owner NatWest moving HQ to London in independent Scotland would be 'hammer blow'

Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) owner NatWest moving its headquarters to London in the event of Scottish independence would be a “hammer blow” to Scotland, according to a pro-union group.

Thursday, 29th April 2021, 1:59 pm
Updated Thursday, 29th April 2021, 3:08 pm

Scotland in Union has also urged the SNP to “drop its obsession” with another referendum on the issue after the banking group’s chief executive Alison Rose reiterated the lender would move its base from Edinburgh to London if Scotland left the UK.

She said the bank had “always been very clear” that its balance sheet would be “too big” for an independent Scotland.

Mr Rose also stressed the group’s neutral stance on independence, saying the issue is “one for the Scottish people”.

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The lender has stressed that it would move its HQ from Edinburgh to London if Scotland left the UK. Picture: Jane Barlow/PA Wire.

Commenting on the remarks was Pamela Nash, chief executive of Scotland in Union, which calls itself a “full-time campaign in Scottish public life which unites all of those who believe we are stronger in the UK”.

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Ms Nash said: “As part of the UK, Scotland has a thriving financial services industry, providing high-quality jobs and income.

"Losing the RBS HQ to London would be a hammer blow for the country’s reputation as a place to invest and work.

CEO Alison Rose said the bank believes its balance sheet would be ‘too big’ for an independent Scotland. Picture: AFP/Getty Images.

“As a new and smaller economy, a separate Scotland would be at greater risk of shocks, and we would be gambling with people’s livelihoods by scrapping the pound and building a border with England.

“The last thing our economy needs as we enter the Covid recovery period is more uncertainty, which is why the SNP should drop its obsession with a divisive and reckless referendum.”

NatWest Group earlier on Thursday became the latest big lender to report a surge in profits after cutting reserves for debts that may turn sour due to the pandemic.

The taxpayer-backed group, which remains 59.8 per cent owned by the taxpayer, reported pre-tax operating profits of £946 million for the first three months of 2021 against £519m a year earlier – an increase of 82 per cent.

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