Chancellor: Borders could be hard hit by a ‘Yes’ vote

George Osborne MP visits St Boswells Main Street Trading Company.
George Osborne MP visits St Boswells Main Street Trading Company.

Chancellor George Osborne has said that the Borders could be among the areas hardest hit economically by Scottish independence.

Mr Osborne made the comment following a meeting with Borders businessmen and women in St Boswells on Friday morning.

The visit was hosted by bookshop, delicatessen and cafe Mainstreet Trading Company.

Mr Osborne and local MSP John Lamont heard about the issues facing local businesses of all sizes and from a wide range of sectors.

Afterwards the Chancellor told us: “It has been a great opportunity to meet with John and local businesses to talk about what the UK Government can do to support small businesses, and businesses in rural areas, and the challenges they face.

“I want to make sure they have lower taxes and get all the help they need to create jobs in this area, and I think the challenges they brought up with me were the challenges of local transport, where they felt that Holyrood hadn’t done enough to support transport in the Borders.”

The Chancellor continued: “They were worried about the impact of independence, should Scotland vote to become independent, and I think this would be one of the areas that would be hit hardest by the economic consequences of that, so it was interesting to talk to local businesses about that and it was just a fantastic opportunity to meet people who have built businesses, employ people and have given opportunities to folk in this area.

“And, with a great local MSP, we have got lots of issues to work on.”

John Lamont MSP added: “Businesses in the Borders face a range of challenges unlike those in other areas.

“That’s why it was so important for the Chancellor of the Exchequer to make this visit to hear what many of these companies had to say.”

One example of how different things could be was provided by Steven Wilson, managing director of John Swan, an auction company with markets in Newtown St Boswells and Wooler.

Although the markets are of similar size, the business rates levied in Newtown St Boswells are some seven times higher than in Wooler.

Mr Lamont added: “Organisations in this area are successful through hard work, and the UK Government is offering to support that hard work and make it pay.

“By listening to their views today on the local economy, that bond will be strengthened further.”