UK’s 310-tonne gold reserves in limbo if Scotland becomes independent

UK’s 310-tonne gold reserves in limbo if Scotland becomes independent

United Kingdom's 310-tonne gold reserves ownership would have to be negotiated if Scotland becomes an independent country, as a weekend opinion poll exposing a surprising surge in support for Scottish autonomy shows it may happen.

A spokesman for the U.K. Treasury told Reuters Monday that a triumph of the "Yes Scotland" campaign would be followed by negotiations with London over a raft of assets, including a $12.6 billion gold reserves (at current prices), the pound and North Sea oil.

The opinion poll released late Saturday showed pro-independence voters in the lead for the first time since the referendum campaign began. The shift in sentiment ahead of the Sept. 18 vote raised the prospect that a split that seemed unlikely a few weeks ago is now more than thinkable.

Nationalists need a simple majority next week to end Scotland’s more than 300-year-old union with England and Wales. The modern U.K. also includes Northern Ireland.

Now leaders are pondering the wide range of thorny problems that an independent Scotland would bring, from currency questions and banking-regulation issues to potentially sweeping political consequences, SkyNews reports.

The pro-union “Better Together” campaign is backed by some big Scottish business names backing it. They include Andrew Mackenzie, chief executive of BHP Billiton (ASX:BHP) —the world's biggest mining company—, Douglas Flint, the chairman of HSBC, and Keith Cochrane, chief executive of Weir Group, the £5.6bn pump and mining equipment maker.

Spot gold was at $1,265 an ounce on Monday, little changed from Friday.

Image from the “Yes Scotland” campaign, via its YouTube Channel.