Chairman of bank says it currently has no plans to move south but says independence is a potential ‘risk’

Lloyds Banking Group has warned that the consequences of Scottish independence are largely unknown, saying the bank has no plan for what would happen if the Scottish people vote to secede.

Lord Blackwell, the bank’s new chairman, said that “there are clearly some uncertainties in terms of what a vote for independence would mean” and that it is “impossible to speculate how compliance, regulation and governance would work”.

When questioned at Thursday’s annual general meeting in Edinburgh about Lloyds’ contingency planning in the event of a “yes” vote, Lord Blackwell said the bank does not have a strategy for what it would do. However, he said the situation was a potential “risk” for financial institutions.

“We are not at this point planning any moves. There are uncertainties created for everyone [and] uncertainties for banks create risk,” he said. “There’s no plan because we do not know what the result would be or what the [subsequent] discussions would be.”

Edinburgh-based financial institutions are grappling with the potential fall-out from a vote for secession in September’s referendum. Royal Bank of Scotland has referred to independence as a “risk factor” and Standard Life is preparing to shift some of its businesses south if Scottish citizens vote to leave the UK.

Lord Blackwell insisted that the vote was “clearly a matter for the Scottish electorate” and said Lloyds, which is 24.9pc owned by the taxpayer, does not have a view. He said the bank would have 12-18 months after the vote to work through the potential ramifications.

When asked if Lloyds would be able to protect jobs north of the border, he said: “We very much hope that any consequences wouldn’t have any negative effects for employment but I can’t answer that question.”