By a Newsnet reporter
The head of one of the UK’s biggest engineering firms has said that his company has no concerns over Scottish independence but has warned that anti-EU rhetoric from Westminster is damaging UK industry.
GKN chief executive Nigel Stein told the national conference of the EEF manufacturers organisation that Scottish independence would not affect his company, but instead said the main threat to business came from the In/Out referendum pledged by David Cameron.
Warning of the impact the UK coalition’s stance was having on his industry, Mr Stein said:
“The prospect of the UK talking itself into an exit would be deeply harmful to our industry.
“Much of the output from our car plants goes to the EU. Competition for investment is intense.
“Uncertainty over the UK’s position in Europe is being used against us by our competitors.
Stein warned that Westminster’s increasingly anti-EU rhetoric risks seeing the UK “talking itself into an exit” which would damage economic competitiveness.
He added: “If we don’t like some aspects of the EU, let us try to change them from within – and not in a British, gold-plated way. Make Europe work for us – don’t walk away from it.”
Asked by Newsnet Scotland if the company had any concerns about the prospect of Scottish independence, a spokesman said unequivocally “No”. Mr Stein confirmed that the prospect of independence would see the company carry on as normal with no adverse effects for business.
The comments from Stein, who took over as CEO in 2012, have been seized on by the SNP who have accused Westminster parties of being “driven by fear of UKIP”.
Reports last week suggested the Labour party were planning to hold their own referendum on the EU if elected in 2015.
Commenting, Edinburgh Central MSP and member of the Economy, Energy and Tourism Committee, Marco Biagi said:
“These welcome comments confirm that business will carry on as normal after a Yes vote, and they also highlight the dangers and economic uncertainty that comes with a No vote – which could leave us with an anti-EU Tory government intent on ripping Scotland out of Europe.
“The Westminster parties are totally driven by their fear of UKIP and the UK Government is tearing itself apart over Europe – the last thing businesses in Scotland need is to be caught in the crossfire.
“A Yes vote in September will allow Scotland to speak with our own voice and build our own relationships with our European neighbours. Scotland’s interests will always be put first – not sacrificed to the isolationist agenda of the Westminster establishment.”