Borders business woman's relief at Scotland No vote

Caroline Stewart, of Alnwick, said Scottish independence could have stifled cross-border trade

Caroline Stewart from Bari tea
Caroline Stewart from Bari tea

The owner of a small business in North Northumberland has spoken of her relief at Scotland voting to remain part of the Union, claiming independence could have stifled cross border trade.

Caroline Stewart, the owner of Bari, the Alnwick-based tea brewery and online tea retailer, said restrictions from a yes vote could have affected trade for years.

She has claimed the differences in trading environments on both sides of the border would widen rather than narrow, even with the no vote, and said the boundary could become as divisive as Hadrian’s Wall.

Mrs Stewart, whose business relies heavily on tourism, often from Scots, alongside more local trade said: “At our hearts we’re a Northumbrian company.

“The word ‘Bari’ [baa-ree] means lovely in Northumberland.

“I was born in Cornhill near the Borders and I’ve lived most of my life in either Scotland or the North East.

“Our Northumbrian heritage is important to me and is a core feature of the business.

“Whilst we sell our teas online, our Tea Brewery in Alnwick is a key foundation of our business.

“Had the Scots voted yes, I believe it would have affected our business in the short and long-term.

“As it is, the no vote is going to lead to some huge changes but at least we don’t have big question marks like which currency our Scots day trippers will have in their pockets.

“The business environment doesn’t really care where the border is – we look to trade North as much as South with tourists from all areas.

“Our trade partners are as far North as the Borders and we have been exploring further outlets in Scotland.

“But the new regulations or restrictions that may have come along with a break from England may have taken years to sort out and would have stifled a significant growth area for small businesses.

“Even with a no vote I’m sure that the differences in trading environments on both sides of the border are going to widen rather than narrow and that can’t be good for either side.

“Northumbrians have a long history of cross-border trading separated by a notional boundary but this boundary could become as divisive as Hadrian’s Wall 2000 years ago.

“Lots of people living in North Northumberland and the Borders don’t consider themselves English or Scottish, they consider themselves Northumbrian or Border folk.

“We’ve a huge shared history with the Scots and things are certainly going to change, even if it’s not a momentous upheaval like a yes vote may have led to.

“But we’ve weathered greater storms than this in Northumberland I’m sure we’ll weather this too.”

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