One of Cumbernauld town centre's owners backs #IndyRef 'No' vote

Written by Scott Campbell.
Published at 14:37 on 11 July 2014.
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Picture: Boyle on the Beeb declared pro-UK stance. Copyright, BBC Scotland.

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ONE of the key faces behind one of the company's which now owns Cumbernauld Town Centre has announced that he is backing a ‘No’ vote to Scottish independence in the upcoming referendum on whether Scotland should divorce the United Kingdom. 

Businessman John Boyle is the Chairman of ‘Hamilton Portfolio Limited’ – one of the companies in a Legally Limited Partnership with Belgate Estates – called ‘Hamcap (Cumbernauld) LLP which now owns Cumbernauld Town Centre.

Boyle – one of the founders of The Hamilton Portfolio and a previous chairman of Motherwell Football Club – was previously the majority owner and founder of Direct Holidays Ltd but last year it was confirmed that he went into partnership with Glasgow firm Belgate Estates to buy Cumbernauld Town Centre.

Hamcap (Cumbernauld) LLP was formed to buy the UK’s first indoor shopping mall from CNC Investments Ltd, the centre’s previous owners, who entered administration in 2012. The firm confirmed on June 26 2013 that they had successfully completed the purchase of the now 59-year-old mall. 

Appearing on BBC Scotland’s ‘The Referendum Debate’ programme last Tuesday (8 July), Mr Boyle OBE declared his backing for a ‘No’ vote in the Scottish independence referendum.

The businessman claimed that independence would leave Scotland as a “small, isolated” country, and said he was backing a “unified Unite Kingdom”. 

Picture: Boyle was on the panel of 2 Yes supporters and 2 No's. Copyright, BBC Scotland.

He said: “Scotland's influence in UK politics has been enormous; [there’s been] David Steel, Robin Cook, Malcolm Rifkind, John Smith, Gordon Brown, Charles Kennedy, John Reid and Alastair Darling – those people have been at the centre of the UK government; the last three Lord Chancellors have all come from Scotland - we have punched our weight in influence in the UK, punched our weight enormously.”

The forty-two-year-old Hamilton-born entrepreneur said he favoured a “strong, unified United Kingdom”, particularly when it comes to world affairs.

He said: I am in no way defending every decision which David Cameron has taken. I personally think they had to take a very strong stance against a more federal Europe; that's what people voted for, he was doing his job; he's using his influence to draw a line in the sand, and I think that is absolutely correct.

“I do not think that a small, isolated Scotland - if it was trying to influence world affairs – would be as effective as a strong, unified United Kingdom.”

Mr Boyle OBE – who helped found Hamilton Portfolio Ltd in 1999 – and picked up the Entrepreneur of the Year award, in 1997, went on to claim that an independent Scotland would “sit in splendid isolation”.

“It's okay being small but we have to engage with the international community,” he said.

When the new Scotland - if it emerges - comes to being, you don't know which currency it's going to have, therefore we don't know which interest rate we're going to pay; we don't know what we'll join and what we'll not join.

“So, it is totally naive to suggest that you can sit in splendid isolation when you can't even control your financial affairs.”

When asked by an audience member whether an independent Scotland would be better placed to tackle poverty and inequality, the businessman said: “Absolutely not”, adding: “The biggest question as I said earlier on, on the question of inequality, it has not moved on jot; and the capitalist system has got a lot wrong with it; there has been an illusion brushed across the last recession that it was a blip - it wasn't.”

He went on: “If we are going to attack inequality then I made quite a practical suggestion that we should more or less mandate companies, over a period of time, to move towards a £10 minimum wage - that can only be done when we take on these big companies, these global companies, and we take them head on... Economic strength to take on conglomerates is much bigger when we are a strong united, United Kingdom.”

Later in the BBC programme, when an audience member asked “We are constantly told that independence is a leap of faith. What certainties are there with remaining within the Union?” Boyle claimed that “the money simply isn’t there” to fund the promises pledged by both the Yes Scotland campaign and the Scottish National Party (SNP) Scottish government.

“If you are talking about economics –as we have now moved away from the passionate debate to the economic debate – the facts seem to be quite incontrovertible; the Yes campaign and the SNP talk about spending money, it’s spend, spend, spend – where are they going to find the money – it simply isn’t there,” he replied. 

“You are entering into an element of economic uncertainty, and people won’t know what their mortgage payments will be next week, people won’t know what currency will be used, we will be in an economic doll drum that’s unbelievable; the risk element of voting ‘Yes’ is quite unquantifiable.

“We’ve had no figures, we don’t even know what the start-up costs of the new Scotland would be; there would need to be I think 47 new institutions set-up, with new administration and bureaucracy… the risk is enormous,” he added.

Mr Boyle was joined on the panel by Scottish actor and pro-independence campaigners David Hayman and Scottish government Minister for Transport and Veterans, Keith Brown MSP, while Mr Boyle and Shadow Minister for Youth Employment, Jenny Marra MSP represented the No campaign at the special debate programme from Portree, in the Isle of Skye. 

Scots will go to the polls in just under ten weeks’ time, on 18 September, and answer the straightforward ‘Yes/No’ question, ‘Should Scotland be an independent country?’

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