Beggs welcomes Scottish neighbours’ decision to remain in UK

Roy Beggs, Ulster Unionist MLA for the East Antrim, a constituency with close proximity and historic links to Scotland, has welcomed the decisive Scottish referendum decision to remain within the United Kingdom.

 Roy Beggs MLA said:

“The Scottish referendum has been a victory for democracy.  It has renewed the interest of hundreds of thousands of citizens in their democratic right to vote and decide their future.  Whilst it was a decision to be taken by Scottish voters alone, I am glad that the uncertainty and adverse financial implications of Scottish independence for Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK have been removed.

 “With close friends and relatives living in Scotland I am also pleased that the potential for restrictions and barriers between citizens and businesses has been averted.    The latest PwC Economic Outlook has estimated that Northern Ireland’s manufacturing sales to Scotland are in the order of £700m per year.  The potential for different regulatory regimes, significantly different tax systems and different currencies could have added significant costs to business and adversely affected local jobs.  This could even have resulted in the nonsense of passport control for Northern Ireland citizens and visitors as they utilised the Larne to Cairnryan/Troon ferries and discouraged business links and tourism.

 “Membership of the United Kingdom benefits both Northern Ireland and Scotland through our share of government funding via the Barnett Formula.  Northern Ireland receives the highest level of funding per head of population even though less tax is generated here. Treasury figures for 2012/13 reveal that we received some £10,876 per head of population compared to £10,152 in Scotland, £9,709 in Wales and £8,788 in England.  Any new calculation would have posed considerable risks for local public services.

 “The ongoing commitment to the Barnett Formula, given by the Prime Minister, will result in the relatively generous financial settlements for Scotland and Northern Ireland continuing.  Even during this time of austerity our public services continue to benefit from several billions of pounds of additional financial funds as a result of the Barnett Formula. 

 “We remain better together, and now we all must build on the opportunity that exists to improve the structure of the United Kingdom for the benefit of all our citizens so that our proud British heritage can be assured in the long term.”

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