Banking giant RBS would move its headquarters from Scotland to London if a vote is taken to remove the country from the UK, the boss of its parent company has said.

Alison Rose, managing director of the NatWest group, said that if independence is an issue for Scots, the bank’s balance sheet would be “too big for an independent Scottish economy”.

The Royal Bank of Scotland was founded in Edinburgh almost three centuries ago in 1727.

Conservative finance spokesman Murdo Fraser said confirmation that independence would see him move his base away from the Scottish capital “clearly confirms the very real consequences for Scottish jobs and business if Nicola Sturgeon ever succeeds “.

RBS Headquarters at Gogarburn in Edinburgh (Andrew Milligan / PA)

Mr Fraser insisted: “For the historic Royal Bank of Scotland to be forced out of Scotland if Britain breaks up would be devastating.”

His comments came after Ms Rose told the Herald newspaper: ‘As you know, we are neutral on the issue of Scottish independence – it’s up to the Scottish people to decide.

“We have been very clear, and it is recognized by seasoned nationalists, that in the event of independence in Scotland our balance sheet would be too large for an independent Scottish economy, and we would move our headquarters… to London. “

His remarks came just days before the Scots went to the polls in Holyrood’s election, with the SNP pushing for a majority of seats in hopes of securing a second independence referendum.

Pamela Nash, Managing Director of the pro-UK Scotland in Union campaign group, said: “As a member of the UK, Scotland has a thriving financial services sector offering high quality jobs and income.

“The loss of the RBS headquarters in London would be a blow to the country’s reputation as a place to invest and work.

“As a new, smaller economy, a separate Scotland would be at greater risk of shocks, and we would gamble with people’s livelihoods by destroying the pound and building a border with England.

“The last thing our economy needs as we enter the period of Covid recovery is more uncertainty, which is why the SNP should drop its obsession with a divisive and reckless referendum.”

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