U.K. Says Single Market Top Reason for Scotland to Stay in Union

An independent Scotland in the European Union would not compensate for the loss of the single U.K. market, the British government said in its latest analysis of the implications of Scotland going it alone.

Scotland’s exports to the rest of the U.K., excluding oil and gas, totaled 45.5 billion pounds ($69.3 billion) in 2011, four times as much as to the rest of the EU and twice as much as to the rest of the world, U.K. Business Secretary Vince Cable said in an e-mailed statement.

“Breaking up Scotland’s most lucrative market would destabilize enterprise and potentially put growth and jobs at risk,” Cable said. “As the economy starts to heal, now is the time to focus on renewed opportunities to do business.”

Independence is the flagship policy of the semi-autonomous Scottish government headed by Scottish National Party leader Alex Salmond. A referendum is being held on Sept. 18 next year, with polls showing voters in favor of retaining the status quo.

It’s the fourth paper from the U.K. government on why it considers Scotland would be better off staying as part of the 306-year-old union. The previous three looked at why it says a currency union with the pound would be unlikely to work, how an independent Scotland would not be able to rescue its biggest banks in the event of their failure, and why Scotland would have to reapply for membership of EU.

Salmond’s nationalists published a report in February from a group of economic advisers including Nobel Prize winner Joseph Stiglitz setting out recommendations for how an independent Scottish economy might work. It has since published reports on welfare as well as North Sea oil and gas, most of which would belong to the country post-independence.

To contact the reporter on this story: Peter Woodifield in Edinburgh at pwoodifield@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Douglas Lytle at dlytle@bloomberg.net

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