Scottish independence & IT: skilled immigrants yes, banks no?

With a week to go to the vote on Scottish independence, The Register has published a lengthy piece by me on the potential impact of independence on ICT companies and professionals.

The most interesting argument from the yes side is that an independent Scotland could allow more skilled immigration, although doing so could conflict with its aim of keeping an open border with the new UK. On the no side, there are worries about currency, VAT, EU membership (of both Scotland and the new UK), the end of the Royal Mail universal service obligation, you name it.

This was also one of those articles that needed updating as it was written and edited, not least because every few hours another financial institution said it would move HQ to England in the event of Scottish independence – including this morning, Royal Bank of Scotland. Presumably it would need a new name. Given it is owned nationally by the Westminster government, there is one obvious option.

The financial institutions have been careful in what they have said about independence. But Richard Holway, chairman of TechMarketView, shot from the hip:

I think that a split would be very damaging for business on both sides of the border. I would anticipate a major downward move on the stock markets and great instability in financial markets. This would be bad for business – of which IT companies are an integral part. I see many Scottish residents fleeing back to England, including skilled IT staff and maybe the companies that employ them.