SCOTLAND could become the business “gateway to Europe” if it achieves independence within the EU, it has been claimed.

Asset management firm Managing Partners Group (MPG) yesterday named Mediterranean nation Malta as the biggest beneficiary of Brexit, predicting UK-based financial firms will move their operations there to ensure continued access to the single market.

HSBC, JP Morgan and Barclays are among the institutions set to shift some of their departments overseas as a result of Brexit.

Jeremy Leach, chief executive officer at MPG, predicts Malta will emerge as “one of the world’s most important financial jurisdictions” as a result.

However, he told The National that Scotland could overtake Malta to become the top destination for migrating business if it becomes an independent EU member.

He said: “If Scotland were able to stay in the European Union after separating from the UK, then it would undoubtedly be the most attractive option as a gateway into Europe. The countries that have made a success out of Europe are certainly at the smaller end of the spectrum.

Edinburgh is the UK’s largest financial outside London and has a global reputation in banking, insurance, pensions and fund management and could certainly provide a valuable passport into Europe for British industry.”

On Malta, which has a population of less than 450,000, Leach said: “It should be the first choice for a financial firm to establish a branch or secondary office because its residents speak English and are well-educated, it provides easy access to the EU and it has an efficient regulatory process.

“It is politically stable, which is not so easy to say with regards to Italy and even France, while it also has a great financial rating, unlike Greece.

“Dublin is good and it offers English but it is more expensive and less tax-efficient than Malta while all the other options in Europe such as Luxembourg, Liechtenstein, Norway, Switzerland or Gibraltar have one or more flaws that weaken their case.”