Independent Scotland would be bad for North East - but we'll cope

MPs and business leaders said they are worried about effects of Scottish independence on region

Newcastle Central MP Chi Onwurah
Newcastle Central MP Chi Onwurah

Scottish independence would be bad for the North East - but the region would make the new arrangements work, according to our MPs.

Meanwhile, business leaders in the region warned that central government and opposition parties at Westminster were failing to take the interests of the North East into account as the independence referendum on September 18 draws closer.

Prime Minister David Cameron and Labour leader Ed Miliband are both stressing that Scotland will receive more autonomy as part of the UK if Scots vote “no” to independence.

But this could place the North East at a major disadvantage unless the region also gets more powers to make its own decisions, said the North East Chambers of Commerce.

It followed an opinion poll by YouGov published over the weekend which found the “yes” campaign had taken the lead for the first time, with 51% support compared to 49% for staying in the union.

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Another survey, by Panelbase, survey put the pro-union side slightly ahead No at 52%, with 48% favouring independence. However, both polls suggests the result is too close to call.

Speaking to the Journal, Chi Onwurah, Labour MP for Newcastle Central, said: “I am a strong supporter of the better together campaign.

“It would be bad for the rest of the UK if Scotland broke away, and that includes the North East. There would be huge amounts of uncertainty and confusion which will take a long time to resolve.

“We will work to make the best of it. But we would be creating a divide where there isn’t one right now.

“And if Scotland were to break away, we would need to look for greater regional autonomy in the North East.”

Simon Hobson Ian Mearns MP for Gateshead
Ian Mearns MP for Gateshead

And Ian Mearns, Labour MP for Gateshead, said: “There’s a whole range of things in the pipeline at the moment which are potential threats to our part of the country.

“The Scots already have devolved power over economic development and are continuing significant amounts of investment in economic development activity, which is a power we haven’t got.”

He also highlighted the political impact of Scotland leaving the United Kingdom, as 40 out of Scotland’s 59 MPs are Labour MPs.

While Labour would still have won most of its General Election victories without Scottish MPs, losing them will make Ed Miliband’s task harder.

Newcastle East Labour MP Nick Brown
Newcastle East Labour MP Nick Brown

Nick Brown, Labour MP for Newcastle East, said: “Whatever happens, in the North East of England we are going to have to try to make it work. And I think we can.

“I favour keeping the union. I think the arrangements that we have work well for the whole of the United Kingdom.

“However, if the vote goes the other way, Scotland will still be our friends and our neighbours and we will have to do what we can to make it work.”

The North East Chambers of Commerce (NECC) said the referendum result could be bad for the North East economy - whichever side won.

Ross Smith, director of policy at NECC said: “The big concern we have got is whether the negotiations that will take place between Whitehall and Holyrood take account of what impact it has on the rest of the country.

“Whatever the outcome is, it’s going to have a big impact on the North East and we’re not confident at the moment that this is begin recognised in the discussions that are taking place.”


David Whetstone
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Graeme Whitfield
Business Editor
Mark Douglas
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