EDINBURGH, Scotland, Aug. 27 (UPI) -- Over 130 business leaders with operations in Scotland signed an open letter urging voters to reject a proposed separation of Scotland from the United Kingdom.
A referendum to decide if Scotland will pursue independence is scheduled for Sept. 18. Opinion polls demonstrate the vote will be close.
The letter said the case for independence had "not been made," and that the signatories would prefer to see Scotland "keep flourishing" as part of the United Kingdom. Those signing the letter include BHP Billiton chief executive Andrew Mackenzie, HSBC chairman Douglas Flint, Ian Curle of Famous Grouse Whiskey producer The Edrington Group, and Weir Group chief executive Keith Cochrane.
The letter said:
"Our economic ties inside the United Kingdom are very close and support almost one million Scottish jobs. The rest of the UK is Scotland's biggest market by far. As job creators, we have looked carefully at the arguments made by both sides of the debate. ...Today Scotland's economy is growing. We are attracting record investment and the employment rate is high. We should be proud that Scotland is a great place to build businesses and create jobs, success that has been achieved as an integral part of the United Kingdom."
It was the first time business leaders, as an organized entity, weighed in on the topic.
The letter was released prior to the final televised debate Monday of leaders of both sides of the issue. Polls taken immediately after the debate indicated the arguments of Alex Salmond, leader of the Scottish National Party and a supporter of independence, outweighed those of Alistair Darling, British Labor Party leader and founder of the "Better Together" pro-unity movement.
The uncertainty over Scotland's economic future, including rules regarding regulatory framework and pensions, has led to risk warnings from some companies, including the Royal Bank of Scotland and Lloyds Banking Group, two of Scotland's biggest employers.