THE chief executive of Royal Bank of Scotland owner NatWest Group has reiterated that the institution would move its headquarters from Edinburgh to London in the event of Scottish independence.

Alison Rose said the Edinburgh-based bank has “always been very clear” that its balance sheet would be “ too big” for an independent Scotland.

Her comments came in response to a question from The Herald regarding the bank’s strategy should next week’s Scottish election return a majority victory for the SNP and ultimately lead to a referendum on Scottish independence.

Speaking as the bank unveiled an operating profit before tax of £946 million for the first quarter, Ms Rose said: “As you know, we are neutral on the issue of Scottish independence – it is something for the Scottish people to decide.

"We have been very clear, and it is recognised by senior nationalists, that in the event that there was independence in Scotland, our balance sheet would be too big for an independent Scottish economy, and we would move our registered headquarters… to London.”

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Ms Rose insisted, however, that such a move would not affect the bank’s commitment to Scotland, where it is one of the country’s biggest private sector employers and supporters of businesses and households.

“It is really just the size of the balance sheet at that point, which we have been very clear in public about and with senior nationalists. The issue of Scottish independence is one for the Scottish people.”