Bosses' group, the CBI, forced to withdraw its opposition to Scottish independence

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 27 April, 2014, 7:03am
UPDATED : Sunday, 27 April, 2014, 7:03am


Britain's biggest employers' organisation, the CBI lobby group, is disassociating itself from the campaign against Scottish independence after a backlash among its members north of the border.

The Confederation of British Industry has warned against Scotland breaking from Britain in September's referendum. Last week it emerged it had registered its support for the 'No' camp with the Electoral Commission.

The move angered many businesses represented by the CBI and some - including Scottish government agencies VisitScotland and Scottish Enterprise and broadcaster STV - withdrew from the organisation.

CBI director-general John Cridland announced on Friday that registering with the Electoral Commission had been an "honest mistake" and the application would be nullified. "We have always said the referendum is a decision for the Scottish people and we are not telling people how to vote," he said.

"However, we do have a legitimate role as the UK's biggest business group in raising important questions on the big issues affecting businesses, jobs and growth, which we will continue to do."

The CBI says it registered with the commission simply to ensure it complied with referendum campaign regulations. It has now agreed not to take part in any campaigning activity.

In March, the CBI warned Scotland's continued economic success was best achieved as part of Britain, warning that First Minister Alex Salmond's economic plan "does not add up".

The trade body's stance has already damaged relations with the pro-independence administration in Edinburgh.

"This astonishing attempt at a U-turn by the CBI ... leaves them without a single shred of credibility, which has been left in tatters," a Scottish government source said.

The main pro-independence business group, Business for Scotland, said the CBI was now "a public laughing stock" and urged all the CBI's Scottish members to quit the group.

Salmond's Scottish National Party wants Scotland to break the 300-year-old political union with the rest of Britain.