Fund Your Utopia Without Me.™

12 September 2014

Alex Salmond's 'Rant 'Erd 'Round The Realm'

  • Rattled Salmond launches extraordinary rant at the BBC after it revealed Royal Bank of SCOTLAND will quit country after 'Yes' vote  
  • First Minister lashes out at broadcaster to deflect row over threat by banks   
  • RBS one of four major banks to turn its back on independent Scotland  
  • John Lewis, Waitrose and Asda say prices will rise if there is a Yes 
  • SNP leader was accused of lying about oil reserves by industry members 
  • He calls for official inquiry into Treasury source who leaked RBS story 
  • Insurance giant Standard Life said it would move south days after Yes vote

By Alan Roden, for Scottish Daily Mail

Alex Salmond today launched an extraordinary rant at the BBC after the broadcaster reported how even the Royal Bank of Scotland planned to relocate to England in the event of independence.

In a bizarre press conference he launched a series of petulant attacks on the BBC, Westminster leaders and the Australian prime minister.

And he revealed he has called for an official inquiry into the Treasury's 'deliberate attempt to cause uncertainty in the financial markets' by leaking details of RBS's fears about the breakup of the Union.

First Minister Alex Salmond launched into a rant aimed at the BBC after it first reported how Royal Bank of Scotland would relocate its headquarters if voters back independence 

Mr Salmond appeared to question the BBC's impartiality as he accused the broadcaster of leaking market sensitive information about RBS.

Mr Salmond clashed with BBC political editor Nick Robinson over the coverage of the warning from banks that they would move they headquarters south of the border

Alex Salmond clashes with BBC's Nick Robinson over RBS (related) 

In a hammer blow to separatists RBS, Lloyds, Clydesdale and Edinburgh-based TSB will move to England if the 'Yes' campaign win next Thursday's referendum - and more could follow.

Mr Salmond responded that his Better Together rivals had launched a campaign of 'scaremongering' and 'intimidation' and financial institutions relocating would have no impact on an independent Scotland.

The First Minister presided over an astonishing press conference for the world's press corps in which he was tetchy, rattled and – according to several observers – 'losing the plot'.

Another observer suggested this was Mr Salmond's 'Sheffield rally', a reference to Neil Kinnock's ill-fated cry of 'We're alright!' before he went on to lose the 1992 General Election.

At one point there was an ugly clash between the SNP leader and BBC political editor Nick Robinson over the fate of Scotland's banks if there is a Yes vote in next week's referendum.

Big move: The Royal Bank of Scotland has revealed it would move its headquarters from Edinburgh, pictured, to London if voters choose independence next week 


Alex Salmond launched an astonishing tirade against BBC political editor Nick Robinson.

He accused the highly-respected broadcaster of 'heckling' him when he urged the SNP leader to answer his question.

Mr Salmond attacked BBC coverage of Lloyds' decision to move its headquarters to London, saying the bank has always been based in the UK capital.

Brandishing a printout of an article, he said 'you Nick or one of your colleagues' was responsible, saying the leak was 'as serious a matter as you possibly can get'.

He was again applauded by his supporters as he said: 'I know the BBC in its impartial role as a public sector broadcaster will give full cooperation to that investigation.'

Mr Salmond attempted to move onto the next questioner but Mr Robinson repeatedly challenged him to answer questions about the impact of the banks' warnings, prompting the First Minister to attack him.

'This has been a lively campaign across Scotland with heckling at many meetings across Scotland. This is the first opportunity the BBC have had to heckle at a meeting,' he said, laughing to himself, before repeating his demand for the Corporation cooperate with an inquiry.

In another show of petulance, he attacked Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, who recently said an independent Scotland would not be in the best interests of the international community.

Mr Salmond said he had received letters from Scot-Australians distancing himself from their premier's views, adding that it could backfire for Mr Abbott at the ballot box.

And, chuckling to himself, he said he would 'never' speak of the Conservative Party in the way David Cameron did on Wednesday, when the Prime Minister said Scots should not vote Yes because they don't like the 'effing Tories'.

Scottish Conservative deputy leader Jackson Carlaw said: 'Considering the eyes of the world are now on Scotland, this was an utterly embarrassing episode.

'The foreign media must have wondered what was going on when the activist corps joined the press one.

'The First Minister looked like a man in danger of losing the plot, and his conduct – and that of organisers – transformed an opportunity to interrogate Alex Salmond into a laughable circus in front of a global audience.'

Mr Salmond tried to deflect from the seismic interventions by demanding an investigation into who briefed the BBC about plans drawn up by RBS to move its registered headquarters to England.

In a mocking tone, the First Minister said he would expect the full cooperation of the 'impartial' broadcaster – prompting cries of 'BBC bias' from the crowd.

The Yes campaign had filled the auditorium at the Edinburgh International Conference Centre with pro-independence supporters, mingling with journalists, making it unclear who was applauding as the attacks continued on the BBC and the 'metropolitan media'.

But the series of announcements by big banks came as the 'No' camp moved back in the lead in a new poll.

The latest Survation survey found 53 per cent of Scots would say No in next week's referendum on independence, with the Yes camp on 47 per cent. One in ten has yet to decide.

RBS, based in Scotland since its formation in 1727 , said today 'it would be necessary to re-domicile the bank's holding company' if next Thursday's referendum ends the 307-year Union.

Banks say they fear being downgraded if they lost the stability of the Union and RBS and Lloyds may even ask for emergency Westminster legislation to help speed through a move to England.

RBS employs 12,000 staff north of the border and is still headquartered in Gogarburn, to the west of Scottish capital Edinburgh,  but this main base would be moved south.

Lloyds Banking Group, which includes Halifax and Bank of Scotland and has 16,000 staff in Scotland, yesterday announced it would move its headquarters to London, in what has been called Alex Salmond's 'Black Wednesday'.

Scotland's third bank, Clydesdale, was also reported to be preparing to leave and Edinburgh-based Standard Life said it would partially move to England, putting up to 5,000 finance jobs at risk.

And Edinburgh-based Standard Life unveiled drastic plans to partially move to England, putting up to 5,000 finance jobs at risk.

John Lewis, Waitrose and Asda caused further damage to the Yes campaign today after it said shoppers in Scotland are likely to face higher prices if the country votes in favour of independence, days after B&Q gave the same warning.

And yesterday BP and Shell also came out against independence and Alex Salmond was accused of lying about oil reserves on what was being dubbed the First Minister's Black Wednesday.

Edinburgh-based TSB, which recently returned to the London stock market after two decades having split from Lloyds, also said it will establish additional legal entities in England.

On the road: The most senior member of the Labour party were in Glasgow today to hear Ed Miliband speak as the Better Together campaign regained a slight lead in the polls


Royal Bank of Scotland grew to become one of the largest and most aggressive banks in the world - but its roots have always been firmly in its home country.

But today RBS said it will register themselves in England if Scotland votes for independence in next week's referendum.

It would be a symbolic blow but also an economic one because going south means Scotland would miss out on earnings from trading and exports. 

The bank was founded in Edinburgh in 1727, but by the end of the 20th century it was a major player in the City of London too as the UK capital became the world's leading financial centre.

RBS sealed its place at the top table of British banking in 2000 when it bought NatWest, which dates back to 1650 and was considered one of the 'Big Four' retail banks in the UK.

Fred Goodwin, above right, became chief executive of RBS the following year and pioneered a gung-ho expansion strategy with resources poured into its investment banking division.

One of the biggest deals came when RBS joined a consortium to buy Dutch bank ABN Amro for £49billion, which was later revealed as a major overvaluation.

With the advent of the 2007 credit crunch and subsequent global financial turmoil, RBS was exposed as being dangerously indebted and unable to meet its obligations.

The Labour Government felt it had no option but to step in, and in October 2008 it took a 57 per cent stake in the bank in return for £37billion of new capital.

As the bank's losses spiralled and it required even more bail-out money, the state share of the firm rose to 82 per cent.

Much of the blame for RBS's troubles was attributed to Goodwin, who was forced to resign and subsequently stripped of the knighthood he had received in 2004.

The wider group is already registered in England but the banking operation is in Scotland, where it has 189 of its 631 branches and almost 2,000 staff.

It said: 'Any change in TSB's legal structure would be taken in the interests of our customers and business.

'In the event of a Yes vote, it is clear that independence will not happen straight away and there would be a period of time between the referendum and implementation of independence, which we expect would provide sufficient time for us to consider and implement any necessary changes.’

Lloyds Banking Group, which includes Halifax and Bank of Scotland and has 16,000 staff in Scotland, yesterday, announced it would move its headquarters to London.

Banks say they fear the lost stability of the Union and RBS and Lloyds may even ask for emergency Westminster legislation to help speed through a move to England.

Scotland's third bank, Clydesdale, was also reported to be preparing to leave and Edinburgh-based Standard Life said it would partially move to England, putting up to 5,000 finance jobs at risk.

Others could follow with Tesco Bank, Scottish Widows and Virgin Bank all headquartered or registered in Edinburgh, and together support thousands of jobs in Scotland's capital.

And Edinburgh-based Standard Life unveiled drastic plans to partially move to England, putting up to 5,000 finance jobs at risk.

The First Minister says reports of banks leaving Scotland are 'nonsense' and 'scaremongering'.

Mr Salmond added that the No campaign has been 'caught red-handed as being part of a campaign of scaremongering'.

'I'm not making that position against any of the companies concerned,' he said.

'But quite clearly if you brief market sensitive information last night to one broadcaster which was meant to be released at 7am this morning, it put this Treasury fingerprints all over this story, and it provides a spectacular example of the sort of campaign tactics of intimidation and bullying that have served the No campaign so badly.' 

Mr Salmond's vision of an energy-rich future was also dismissed as a fantasy by a leading Scottish oilman and BP and Shell also came out against independence.

And Bank of England Governor Mark Carney piled on the pressure by warning that Edinburgh would have to set aside around £130billion to guarantee savers' bank deposits.

Today more than one hundred business leaders from all over Scotland have also backed a No vote.

Leading business figures in all sectors across Scotland said they have concluded that the economic risks of separation are not worth taking. 

Food prices will rise in an independent Scotland, says supermarket giant Asda as Next and John Lewis warn of rising costs

Supermarket giant Asda today became the biggest retailer to warn shoppers that prices will rise in Scotland if becomes an independent country.

In a blunt warning to customers, Britain's second largest retailer said trading across a new border would make business more 'complex' and push up costs.

The pain would be felt by the working class vote being targeted by both sides in the referendum campaign, and comes after big names like John Lewis and B&Q warned their prices would rise in an independent Scotland.

Supermarket giant Asda said it costs more to do business in Scotland, which would be passed on to shoppers if it became a separate country

First Minister Alex Salmond today tried to brush aside the warnings about the devastating impact of independence on family budgets, claiming the threats were not new.

But with just a week until the historic vote on breaking up the union and the latest poll putting No ahead, pro-independence campaigners will struggle to reassure going it alone will not hit Scots in their pocket.

Our business model would inevitably become more complex. We would have to reflect our cost to operate 

Operating in Scotland is more expensive more for large retail chains than in more densely populated parts of England, but they absorb the costs to ensure prices are the same across the UK.

But if Scotland becomes a separate country it would be treated like other overseas operations where prices are higher.

Today Asda issued its strongest warning yet that prices would have to rise.

Andy Clarke, president and CEO of Asda, said: 'If we were no longer to operate in one state with one market and – broadly – one set of rules, our business model would inevitably become more complex. We would have to reflect our cost to operate here.

'This is not an argument for or against independence; it is simply an honest recognition of the costs that change could bring.’

'For us the customer is always right and this important decision is in their hands.'
It came hours after the head of the John Lewis Partnership also warned it would cost Scots more to shop in their nine John Lewis and Waitrose stores.

Chairman Sir Charlie Mayfield told BBC Radio 4: 'It does cost more money to trade in parts of Scotland and therefore those hard costs, in the event of a Yes vote, are more likely to be passed on.'

He added: 'On the day after the referendum the shops are going to open on time, nothing will change.

'For various reasons - regulation and transport costs etc - it does currently cost more money to serve parts of Scotland.

'Most retailers don't run different prices, they absorb that in the totality.

'If you go forward several years and you see a divergence of different things - particularly currency - that creates the likelihood, not the certainty, that costs would be higher.

'And when you are talking about two different countries it is most probable that most retailers would then start pricing differently.

'My view would be that the likelihood is that that would lead to some higher prices.' 

Lord Wolfson, the boss of clothes store Next, also voiced fears about the impact of independence, including the loss of well-paid workers from the financial sectors who could move south.

He said: 'I'm worried about three things: currency, taxes and jobs. Whatever currency comes in in Scotland, it's likely to be weaker than the one they've got, and that is likely to push up prices.

'Nobody quite knows what the financial situation will be in Scotland — it may be fine but there is obviously a risk that taxes will have to go up and financial-services firms are already saying that if there is a 'Yes' vote, they'll leave.'

Former Prime Minister Gordon Brown, speaking in Kilmarnock today,  insisted the Yes campaign 'can't dismiss all of the warnings all of the time'

Earlier this week the boss of B&Q owner Kingfisher warned the costs of DIY would rise in an independent Scotland.

Sir Ian Cheshire had already warned he will mothball investment in Scotland if it votes for independence until details of the separation becomes clear.

But he went even on Tuesday saying: 'Smaller, more complex markets often mean passing higher costs on to consumers. We think there is a real risk in terms of higher costs, the uncertainty about a currency union and the difficulty of making investment decisions.  Investment decisions would be on pause while we work out what's likely to happen.’

We are not going to pick up stores and move them south of the Border, but [a Yes vote] would represent real and significant challenge for our business.'

Scottish Labour MSP Jackie Baillie said: 'The cost of doing business here is higher than the rest of the UK, but because we pool and share resources that keeps costs down. If we vote for separation then we are voting for higher shopping prices. Scottish families should be in no doubt – if we vote to leave the UK it would cost us all dear.

'Why take on the risk of separation when we can have the certainty of change within the UK?'

But Scottish Finance Secretary John Swinney said other major retailers had rejected claims prices would rise.

'I think the argument is one that is firmly contested by other retailers,' he said.

Alex Salmond has been pilloried after unveiling a blueprint for Scottish independence that assumes the English would continue to share the UK’s ‘crown jewels’ including the pound and BBC programmes.

The First Minister’s long-awaited White Paper on independence promised Scotland “will” retain sterling and would seek to join the EU on the same terms as the UK, including a euro opt-out and a share of Baroness Thatcher’s rebate.

A separate Scotland would assume a much lower share of the UK’s national debt than previously thought, spend more on childcare and a new Scottish Broadcasting Service would show the BBC’s output, the document said.

But Mr Salmond refused to acknowledge that the English, Welsh and Northern Irish may not go along with his “common sense” proposals if there is a ‘yes’ vote in September’s referendum.

The 650-page document contained no ‘Plan B’ for a separate Scotland’s currency despite a series of political figures led by George Osborne, the Chancellor, warning that a deal to share sterling was unlikely.

Alistair Darling, the former Chancellor and leader of the pro-UK Better Together campaign, said the Scottish Government had produced a “wish list of political promises” with few details or costings.

The White Paper did not attempt to price the setting up of a new nation state or address a report by the impartial Institute for Fiscal Studies last week, which said an extra £6 billion of spending cuts or tax rises would have to be found.

Keeping sterling is vital to Mr Salmond’s hopes of winning the referendum, with the White Paper promising Scots that their pensions and mortgages would be unaffected by independence.

And, after Scotland is not refused a currency union, EU membership (for at least 5 years), and is not admitted to NATO, what will happen then to sweet, 'lil Nessie?

Related Reading:

Scotland: Cuba Without The Sunshine

An employee walks inside the Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc's (RBS) headquarters in Gogarburn, Edinburgh, Scotland, on Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2012. Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc was sued in New York by Landesbank Baden-Wuerttemberg over $71 million in mortgage-backed securities. Photographer: Mike Wilkinson/Bloomberg

Scots Warned Over Decade of Doubt

One of Britain’s top industrialists gave warning on Thursday that a Scottish Yes vote next week could cast a uncertainty over the UK economy for a decade, as Scotland’s banks led a sustained onslaught against independence. 

Five banks said they would move their headquarters south of the border in the event of a Yes vote, and are lobbying the Treasury to pass new laws to speed up the transfer of their corporate bases to England. 

David Cameron has been urging business leaders to speak out against independence for months. Thursday, in the wake of opinion polls indicating a tight race, finally saw an outpouring of corporate warnings about the implications of a Yes vote in next week’s referendum. 

Sir Mike Rake, chairman of BT Group, deputy chairman of Barclays and president of the CBI employers’ organisation, said independence would destabilise investment in Scotland and the rest of the UK. “The uncertainty will last for easily 10 years,” he told the Financial Times. 

“Inevitably this uncertainty will lead to a slowdown in investment in the UK as a whole as well as Scotland.” 

The onslaught came after two opinion polls indicated that next week’s vote on whether to break up the 307-year-old union was neck-and-neck, although the latest poll on Thursday by YouGov gave a narrow lead to the No campaign at 52 per cent, against 48 per cent in favour of independence. 

Alex Salmond, Scotland’s nationalist first minister, said Mr Cameron was orchestrating a campaign of business “scaremongering”, adding that Scots would ignore the warnings. “Scotland is on the cusp of making history,” he said. “Scotland will vote Yes next Thursday.” 

Royal Bank of Scotland led a host of banks, employing more than 35,000 people in Scotland, warning they would relocate their headquarters south of the border in the event of a Yes vote on September 18. 

But the banks, including Lloyds Banking Group, are worried that the costly and lengthy legal process required to change the domicile of a bank would be further delayed if many institutions rushed to move south at the same time. They have told the Bank of England and the Treasury there would be a case for new legislation. 

The announcements from RBS and Lloyds were swiftly echoed by Clydesdale Bank, TSB Bank and Tesco Bank; government insiders said the move was co-ordinated by the Better Together campaign for a No vote.


Scotland will decide in a referendum to be held on September 18 whether or not to end the 307-year-old union with England

Aegon UK, the subsidiary of the eponymous Dutch insurer, joined its rival Standard Life in saying it would move its registered life company to England if the Scots voted for independence.

The banks believe that they risk being penalised by investors and rating agencies if they keep their domicile in an independent Scotland and lose the support of the Bank of England as their lender of last resort. Inquiries from nervous customers about the consequences of a Yes vote have also increased since the polls narrowed last week.

Mr Salmond said RBS’s contingency plan would not affect jobs or on an independent Scotland’s corporation tax base. “Corporation tax depends not on the registered office but on economic activity,” he said.

Danny Alexander, UK Treasury chief secretary, said: “If all these great institutions locate to England, you would absolutely see a loss of jobs at headquarters, but over time you would see a pulling away in terms of engagement with Scotland.”

Ross McEwan, the RBS chief executive, wrote to his 12,000 staff in Scotland saying they would not be relocated if there was a Yes vote. “This is a technical procedure regarding the location of our registered head office. It is not an intention to move operations or jobs,” he said in the letter.

Mr Salmond, speaking in Edinburgh, said the business campaign was being whipped up by Downing Street, which was “trying to galvanise leading business people to try to say something negative about Scotland”.

He contrasted what he branded scaremongering by the London establishment with what he portrayed as the positive mood among Scots who were “rediscovering self-confidence” and “finding our voice”. 

Related Reading: