Scotland’s leading banks warned Thursday that they would move their headquarters to England if Scots vote to leave the United Kingdom, intensifying doubts about the territory’s economic future and dealing a blow to the Scottish independence campaign just days ahead of a historic referendum.
Although the banks say the contingency plans are legal procedures that would have a minimal effect on their operations and jobs in Scotland, the warnings renewed concerns about an independent Scotland’s ability to retain businesses — particularly during the long months of financial uncertainty that would follow a vote to break the 307-year union with England.
The Royal Bank of Scotland, which has been based there since 1727, said it drew up the plans because of uncertainties that could hurt its business and customers if the Sept. 18 vote leads to independence. Until recently, the prospect of an independent Scotland was dismissed as highly unlikely. But the latest polls suggest the independence campaign is gaining momentum.