Great piece by Mark Hennessy who digs into a part of England where they probably have a more nuanced understanding of the Scots instinct for greater autonomy than any other.
…the northeast of England worries about the powers that the Scots already have, let alone the possibility that they might get powers over corporation tax rates.
Last September, it emerged that online retailer Amazon chose Edinburgh rather than Newcastle for a new operation after Scottish Enterprise offered training grants the northeast could not match.
And then there’s this wee gem:
“There is already evidence that a devolved Scotland is stealing a march on the northeast economically,” Newcastle University’s Prof John Tomaney told the Newcastle Journal.
For Newcastle’s Chamber of Commerce, more devolved powers for Scotland poses an even bigger headache for its region than does the possibility that Scots would vote for independence.
Scottish independence, says the chamber’s James Ramsbotham, would leave Edinburgh with a host of new headaches, requiring it “to take a balanced approach”.
However, more devolution would offer Edinburgh fewer difficulties “but allow them to compete with us more intensively”, he said earlier this month. [Emphasis added]
It’s an issue that Salmond himself is in no doubt of. Hennessy quotes him from a recent speech at the LSE:
“We have no wish to enter a ‘race to the bottom’ with anyone. However, metropolises like London, or large countries, can exert a centrifugal force which draws power towards them. Small countries, and regional economies, need a fiscal edge to encourage decision-making centres to settle.
“Those headquarters and decision-making centres in turn create prosperity,” he went on, adding that the Scottish government has done the figures on the impact of a 3 per cent corporation tax cut – which would still leave it far higher than the Republic’s. Such a move would support 27,000 jobs, he argues.
Either way, the constitutional shape of the United Kingdom is set to change irrevocably – even if the saltire remains part of the union flag.