Scotland politics

Scottish independence: Tesco plays down 'Yes' cost increase claim

Tesco trolley Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Tesco supermarket said the referendum vote was a matter for the Scottish people

Supermarket giant Tesco has played down claims its prices would rise in an independent Scotland.

It described the suggestion in a pro-Union Better Together campaign leaflet as "entirely speculative".

A spokesman for Tesco said the company was "neutral on the referendum" which was "a matter for the Scottish people."

But Labour's Jackie Ballie, speaking on behalf of Better Together, said a "Yes" vote would "cost families in Scotland dear".

The statement from the UK supermarket was made after pro-Union literature used Tesco prices in Ireland to suggest that shopping in Scotland could cost 16% more after a "Yes" vote.

In a letter to a customer who had inquired about the claim in the leaflet, Tesco said "I can confirm that this is not true", adding that it had "a great business in Scotland" and would "continue to offer the best prices whatever the outcome of the referendum".

Tesco said that higher labour and energy costs, along with government levies on certain products such as wine, pushed up some prices in Irish supermarkets.

But the company insisted that "some items of fresh produce, meats and other household items" were actually cheaper in Tesco's stores in Ireland than in its stores in the UK.

Do you have questions?

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  • In a series running up to polling day, the BBC's reporters, correspondents and editors are looking at the major referendum questions and by using statistics, analysis and expert views shining a light on some of the possible answers.

The people of Scotland go to the polls on Thursday, 18 September, when they will be asked the "Yes/No" question: "Should Scotland be an independent country?"

Ms Baillie said experts had made it clear that leaving the UK would increase prices in Scotland.

She pointed to the work of Alan McKinnon, who is professor of Logistics at the Kuehne Logistics University in Hamburg.

He is reported to have said that if Scotland left the UK, the "the distribution of supplies from warehouses in England to shops and businesses in Scotland, many of which are currently internal inventory transfers, would become international trade".

The academic went on to say that would "be a very costly option and result in higher prices in the shops".

'Clarification welcome'

Ms Baillie said: "Times are tough enough already for families here without putting more pressures on the household budget. We know from the supermarket bosses and the experts that the cost of doing business in Scotland is more expensive than elsewhere in the UK.

"Being part of the UK means we can spread this extra cost amongst customers across the whole of the UK, rather than the burden falling on Scottish families alone."

However, the Yes Scotland campaign said that the intervention of Tesco to clarify its position had left the Better together campaign embarrassed.

The SNP's Derek Mackay said: "Tesco's clarification is welcome - the No campaign must withdraw their misleading leaflet as a matter of urgency.

"People across Scotland have already started casting their votes in the referendum - for them to be able to make the right choice they must be given the facts.

"That the decision was taken to include these ridiculous claims in their official referendum communication says it all - their complete lack of vision for Scotland means all they can do is scaremonger in a desperate attempt to convince people to vote No."

  • A referendum on whether Scotland should become independent is to take place
  • People resident in Scotland will be able to take part in the vote, answering the "yes/no" question: "Should Scotland be an independent country?"
  • The referendum will take place on Thursday, 18 September 2014
  • Go to the BBC's Scotland Decides page for analysis, background and explainers on the independence debate.

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