BREXIT would hit Edinburgh’s financial services sector and have a “devastating” impact on inward investment, the chief executive of Virgin Money has warned.
Jayne-Anne Gadhia said a vote to leave the EU would result in the centre of financial excellence moving to other money spots in Europe.
Speaking at the launch of the Scotland Stronger In Europe campaign, Ms Gadhia said Scotland’s economic prosperity was “critically linked” to EU membership.
She said: “London, and the benefits that go all the way through to Edinburgh and beyond, is such a key financial services centre for Europe and for the world.
“And all of the people who know what’s likely to happen ... the view very strongly is that if Britain votes to come out of the EU then that centre of financial excellence will move to Paris and Frankfurt.
“All of the investment that big companies have made, whether they are global companies from overseas or our own companies, in the infrastructure, employment and success of London and beyond would actually be untangled and would move to Europe, and I think that disruption is very, very significant and I think would have a devastating effect on internal, inward investment to the UK economy.”
Ms Gadhia said it was the economy which would make the ultimate difference to how people voted in the EU referendum on June 23 because Brexit would affect the pound in their pockets.
She said: “It will mean that when you are in Europe and you want to use your mobile phone you are going to have to pay more, it will put the costs of flights up, it will put up prices in the shops, it will increase mortgage and credit card rates. People will definitely be very materially worse off out of Europe.”
Ms Gahdia added: “Scotland’s economic prosperity is critically linked to equal access to the biggest single market in the world. It is inconceivable that we could have the same equality of access to the single market if we leave the EU.”
With polls showing the Leave and Remain camps running neck and neck across the UK, the Scotland Stronger in Europe group claimed the votes of Scots could prove decisive. A poll yesterday showed 76 per cent north of the Border planning to vote to stay in.
Senior campaign spokesman John Edward said: “The referendum looks like being extremely close UK-wide, and we are putting all our supporters and activists on alert that the votes of the people of Scotland could make the difference in achieving a Remain result across the UK.
“The polls in Scotland suggest a very large potential Remain vote – stretching across the political spectrum and bridging both sides of the independence debate – and the turnout may also be higher in Scotland than south of the Border.”
Brian Monteith of the Leave.EU campaign accused Ms Gadhia of scaremongering.
He said: “The greater threat to financial services in the UK, including Edinburgh, is the transaction tax that Brussels is keen to introduce that will punish our businesses and send them fleeing to Zurich and Geneva, not Paris or Frankfurt.”