Scottish Independence
Alex Salmond, leader of the SNP, wants Scotland to vote for independence in its referendum Reuters

Two-hundred business leaders in Scotland have signed an open letter backing a 'Yes' vote in the imminent referendum on independence.

Among the signatories are Ralph Topping, the former chief executive of gambling giant William Hill; Sir Brian Souter, chairman of transport firm Stagecoach Group; and Jim McColl, chief executive of engineering business Clyde Blowers.

They argue that Scotland's economy would be better off overall if the country splits from the UK because it could become more competitive, though they acknowledge the uncertainties surrounding areas such as currency and regulation.

"An independent Scotland will recognise entrepreneurs small and large as the real wealth and job creators of the nation's economic future," the letter, published in The Herald, said.

"It will encourage a culture in which innovation, endeavour and enterprise are nurtured. It will place power in the hands of Scotland's people to channel the huge resources of our country in the interests of those who live and work here."

It adds: "Scottish industry is often treated as a cash cow rather than a strategically important part of a more prosperous and fairer society."

The latest letter follows a similar one by 130 businesspeople speaking in favour of keeping the UK together.

Scots vote on independence on 18 September. Though the 'No' campaign has a clear lead, the polls are narrowing ahead of the vote and there is still a large chunk of undecided voters.

Alex Salmond, leader of the Scottish National Party (SNP) and pro-independence campaigner, cites North Sea oil and gas revenues as a reason that Scotland could stand alone financially.

But his opponents, which include the three main Westminster parties, all point to the forecasts that show North Sea production is set to decline sharply over the coming decades and that those vying for independence are too optimistic.