U.K. Warns Scottish Nationalists Not to Threaten Business

Scottish Secretary Alistair Carmichael said nationalists shouldn’t try to stop businesses publicly opposing independence ahead of the Sept. 18 referendum on whether to stay in the U.K.

Speaking to reporters in London yesterday, Carmichael cited comments by Gavin Hewitt, the former chief executive officer of the Scotch Whisky Association, who told the Herald newspaper June 13 he had received “intimidating calls” from senior members of the pro-independence Scottish National Party.

“If that’s true, and we hear these stories ourselves, that doesn’t help the debate,” said Carmichael, the minister responsible for Scotland in the U.K. government. “This debate has got to include an awful lot more than just politicians. People need to hear the voice of business in particular, because business voices are voices that are trusted.”

Carmichael also referred to the online response to Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling’s 1 million-pound ($1.7 million) donation to the anti-independence campaign for which he said she was “quite frankly, monstered.”

Two business leaders have commented on independence in the past month. Ivan Menezes, CEO of drinks-maker Diageo Plc (DGE), said on May 30 that it was “extremely important” Scotland remains in the European Union. The same day, Ian Cheshire, CEO of retail group Kingfisher Plc, said a vote for independence would lead the company to “pause” investment as a result of uncertainties about Scotland’s currency and EU membership.

The SNP didn’t respond to a request for comment.

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