The Retailer Spring_09.05_FA


NEWS FROM THE BRC Scottish independence

David Lonsdale, Director director scotish Retail Consortium

Scotland’s First Minister, Rt Hon Nicola Sturgeon MSP, has set out her ambition to hold another referendum on Scottish independence, prior to the next Scottish Parliament election in Spring 2021. It comes as her party considers switching its policy on which currency ought to be used if independence is achieved. The First Minister has said legislation will be published shortly on the rules under which such a ballot would be held, including the franchise, question to be put, timing etc. Given the pro-independ- ence SNP/Green majority at Holyrood this is likely to be passed, however the ability to hold a legally binding plebiscite is the preserve of Westminster and there is no indication that will be forthcoming. That said, it might be prudent for retailers to consider whether the issue should be added to their risk register. The retail industry is going through an unprecedented period of transition as it adapts to changes in consumer behaviour, technological innovation and rising costs. The fundamental nature of this change means retailers are acutely conscious of broader economic and political events which may affect their businesses. If there is to be a further referendum on Scottish independence then there will be an undoubted thirst for clarity over what it all means, especially for the existing UK single market and what the ultimate economic impact will be. To aid members’ own internal thinking at the referendum in 2014, the Scottish Retail Consorti- um (SRC) produced a toolkit to help members better understand the implications for their business, staff, supply chain, and customers. Practical issues of relevance might revolve around things like currency, taxation (e.g. corporation tax, VAT, NICs, excise duties), import duties, employment and industrial relations, competition policy and corporate governance, and other regulatory regimes such as data protection, advertising and consumer rights. In parallel to the independence push, the Scottish Government is also aiming to convene cross party talks on what further powers could be devolved to Holyrood, over and above those devolved already (such as income tax) and those due to be repatriated following Brexit. The early focus is likely to be employment policy (presumably including statutory minimum wages, industrial relations and collective bargaining) and immigration. The SRC is keen to hear any early thoughts from members on all of this, as well as any insights as to how the UK’s existing single market could be made more effective.

12 | spring 2019 | the retailer

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