North East business community to debate implications of Scottish referendum

The Journal will be hosting a business breakfast focused on the much-talked about issue of Scotland's future

Danny Lawson/PA Wire First Minister Alex Salmond
First Minister Alex Salmond

With just two months to go before the much-discussed Scottish independence referendum, The Journal, in association with UBS Wealth Management, is offering the North East business community the chance to get involved in the debate.

On Tuesday, August 19, a host of high profile speakers will be sharing their insights on how on the region could be impacted by the votes cast on September 18.

The breakfast event, to be held at the Hilton Newcastle Gateshead between 7.30am and 10am, will be chaired by Richard Moss, BBC political editor for the North East and Cumbria.

Also contributing will be former North East LEP director Edward Twiddy, who is now director of innovation at Atom Bank; chief executive of the Wallsend-based subsea engineering firm SMD, Andrew Hodgson; president and chief executive of electric vehicle control manufacturer Sevcon Ltd, Matt Boyle; and Liberal Democrat Peer Lord Shipley.

Edward Twiddy, director of North East LEP
Edward Twiddy, director of North East LEP
 

While much of the Scottish independence debate has naturally focussed on the implications for the country itself - as well as the wider UK economy - the potential impact on the North East has come under the spotlight increasingly during recent weeks.

Some commentators have suggested that, whatever the result of the referendum, commonalities between Scotland and the region that borders it provide a sound basis for new alliances.

Potential shared economic strategies, for example, could focus on everything from rural development to renewables to the oil and gas sectors, which are thriving both in the North East and in long-established industry hubs such as Aberdeen.

On the flipside, many claim, Scotland’s economic and tax freedoms may in fact pose a serious threat to the economy of the North East.

Andrew Hodgson chief executive of SMD
Andrew Hodgson chief executive of SMD
 

The country is already viewed as having powerful political and economic development organisations, which may be strengthened through the capacity to speak with a single voice, and the possession of ‘soft power’.

Concerns are also developing in the region that in the run-up to the referendum, the UK Government may place disproportionate weight on rewarding Scotland to show voters the benefits of remaining in the union.

Vinay Bedi, executive director at UBS Wealth Management, said: “Given the significance of this vote, and the North East’s proximity to Scotland, we’re looking forward to this debate on Scottish Independence and what it might mean for the region.

“Our base case is that independence will be rejected, but with the Yes side winning a share of over 40%.

“This will support further, more radical devolution of powers to the Scottish Parliament over time.

“We’re delighted that Bill O’Neill, Head of the UK Investment Office of UBS Wealth Management, is able to join us next month, just a month before the vote.”

Vinay Bedi, executive director at UBS Wealth Management
Vinay Bedi, executive director at UBS Wealth Management
 

Tickets for the event cost £25 plus VAT each, with a table of 10 costing £200 plus VAT.

For more information or to buy tickets contact Rebecca Luckley on rebecca.luckley@trinitymirror.com or 0191 201 6092

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