Scottish Independence debate date draws near

The Journal is bringing together a panel of experts to discuss how changes in Scotland could affect the North East economy

CALLUM MOFFAT 2014 A reminder that the Scottish independence referendum is on 18 September
A reminder that the Scottish independence referendum is on 18 September

Businesses keen to get an insight on the implications of the Scottish referendum for the North East economy have less than two weeks to purchase tickets for a business breakfast being run by The Journal with support from UBS Wealth Management.

The event, which will be held at the Hilton Newcastle Gateshead between 7.30am and 10am on August 19, will see a host of high profile figures discuss how the votes cast on August 19 could impact on the region.

The keynote speaker on the morning will be Bill O’Neill, who heads the UK investment office of UBS Wealth Management.

An expert on the UK economy, with over 30 years experience in investment management and research, O’Neill has held a wide range of investment strategy and asset allocation roles at the likes of Barclays and JPMorgan.

In his current role, he provides UK-specific research content to the UBS Global Chief Investment Office and is also responsible for the UBS House View for client advisers and clients.

“This is an important discussion because it’s a major referendum that has focussed the markets,” he said.

Bill O'Neill of UBS
Bill O'Neill of UBS

“Looking at the issue of Scottish independence, I don’t think the context will ever be the same again. Regardless of what people feel, there is always the risk of surprise. If there is a yes vote, there would be dramatic implications.”

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.

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. 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.

Joining Mr O’Neill will be a panel of experts including former North East LEP director Ed 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.

Tickets 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 or 0191 201 6092.


David Whetstone
Culture Editor
Graeme Whitfield
Business Editor
Mark Douglas
Newcastle United Editor
Stuart Rayner
Sports Writer