LONDON – A Scottish vote for independence from the United Kingdom this month could have serious consequences for the Scottish and U.K. economies, Goldman Sachs said in a research note on Wednesday.
Goldman Sachs economist Kevin Daly said that while the Wall Street bank still felt the most likely outcome was for Scotland to vote to stay in the United Kingdom, a surprise victory for the “Yes” campaign to break away would have a drastic impact.
“Opinion polls suggest that the gap between the ‘Yes’ and the ‘No’ camps has narrowed but that a ‘Yes’ vote in favour of independence remains unlikely,” Daly wrote in the note.
“In the event of a surprise ‘Yes’ vote, the near-term consequences for the Scottish economy, and for the U.K. more broadly, could be severely negative,” he added.
The Scotland independence vote will be held Sept. 18, and Daly said the threat of a breakup would give investors a strong incentive to sell Scottish-based assets and withdraw deposits from Scottish based banks.
Part-nationalized British bank Lloyds, which owns Bank of Scotland, is considering having its registered office in London rather than Edinburgh, should Scots vote for independence, banking industry sources have told Reuters.
Daly added that the Bank of England would be unable to credibly commit to a sterling currency union remaining unbroken in case of a “Yes” vote later this month.
The “Better Together” campaign, which has recently lost some of its advantage over the rival “Yes” campaign in favor of independence, latched onto Goldman Sachs’ warning.
Jackie Baillie, who is a Labour Party member of the Scottish parliament, said the Goldman Sachs note showed that voting for independence could in fact lead to cuts to vital public services such as health care and education.
“We know that independence would push up costs on everyday things like energy and shopping bills. Today’s expert intervention spells out the reality for our schools and hospitals too,” Baillie said in a statement.
The “Yes” campaign for independence, led by politician Alex Salmond, has for its part argued that breaking away could enable Scotland to resist any cuts to public spending set out by the government in London. Salmond has also pledged to keep the sterling currency for an independent Scotland.
A poll earlier this week showed that support for Scottish independence rose dramatically in August, leaving the “Yes” campaign just six points behind advocates of staying in the United Kingdom.
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