"Absolute bloody shambles": Scottish businesses abandon hope in UK Government's Brexit negotiations

New survey shows a majority of Scottish business owners have no faith in Theresa May securing the best deal for Scotland

ONLY 8 PER CENT of Scottish business owners trust the UK Government to secure the best Brexit deal for Scotland, while 79 per cent would be in favour of a second EU referendum after the terms of Brexit are clear, a recent survey from the pro-independence think tank Business for Scotland (BFS) has revealed.

Conducted between 13 November and 11 December 2017 and questioning 758 businesses and directors across Scotland, the combined employees of which number 199,000, the latest research from BFS reveals that 90 per cent of respondents do not trust the UK Government to deliver “the best deal for Scotland”, and that 45.77 per cent believe the UK Government will fail to secure a deal of any kind at all.

When asked “To what extent do you believe the following outcomes of the Brexit negotiations would have either a positive or negative impact on Scotland’s economic prospects?”,  90.19% of respondents stated that they believed a hard Brexit with no trade deal, otherwise known as the ‘WTO option’, would have a negative impact on the Scottish economy. 

READ MORE: Hard Brexit “cliff edge” could cost Scotland £30 billion

The survey also revealed that only 43 per cent of those who would vote Leave in a second EU referendum believed a hard Brexit would be positive in any way. This would appear to indicate that a majority of Leave-supporting Scottish business owners and directors would prefer a ‘soft’ Brexit, rather than one which abides purely by World Trade Organisation (WTO) trading rules.

Regarding the ‘Canada option’, i.e. a Brexit deal with preferential trading arrangement, 86 per cent of respondents believed the outcome would be negative. Only 7.97 per cent believed that this type of Brexit would in any way be economically advantageous.

Conversely, 76.81 per cent of respondents stated that halting Brexit entirely would be advantageous to the Scottish economy.

“We need to retain our current EU labour base and allow additional EU nationals to join us.” Unnamed UK bank director quoted by Business for Scotland

Elaborating on their contributions to the survey, a senior manager of a unnamed global organisation with a reported 800 employees in Scotland and 80,000 worldwide said that the UK Government’s Brexit negotiations had displayed “appalling incompetence and condescending to the devolved administrations.”

The unnamed owner of a “major” hotel and leisure group also said: “We need to retain our current EU labour base and allow additional EU nationals to join us.”

Meanwhile, an unnamed director a UK bank simply described the Brexit negotiations as an “absolute bloody shambles.”

“British business will have to learn to get by in a different world.” Former Conservative leader Iain Duncan Smith

The survey’s findings come as new analysis by the Financial Times suggests that the UK as a whole has already suffered significant depressed growth as a result of leaving the EU, and that UK’s output is now around 0.9 per cent lower than was possible if the UK had voted to remain in the EU.

According to Business Insider, this would equate to almost exactly £350 million a week, the same figure that the Leave campaign argued during the EU campaign that the UK would save if it voted for Brexit.

Against growing uncertainty in the business community about the outcome of ongoing Brexit negotiations, former Conservative leader and prominent Leave campaigner Iain Duncan Smith recently told BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme: “British business will have to learn to get by in a different world.”

“It’s clear from this survey that any kind of Brexit is bad for business and bad for Scotland.” Business for Scotland CEO Gordon MacIntyre-Kemp

Commenting on the survey’s findings, BFS CEO Gordon MacIntyre-Kemp said: “We intend to repeat this survey periodically to keep track of business perceptions on Brexit negotiations as they progress but even we were surprised just how strong the feelings were on key issues such as a second referendum and how strong business support in Scotland was for remaining in the EU.

“It’s clear from this survey that any kind of Brexit is bad for business and bad for Scotland.  The business community has been notably quiet on Brexit, but this survey has allowed it to find its voice; 90% do not trust the UK Government to secure the best deal for Scotland, whilst 89% don’t even trust the UK negotiating team to secure the best deal for the whole of the UK.

READ MORE: SNP accuse David Davis of contempt of parliament over lack of Brexit assessments

“No one knows what kind of Brexit we will end up with, or what level of access our businesses will have to the single market and that’s a problem for business. Last week’s contradictory and quite frankly impossible to implement so-called Brexit deal has just added to the confusion.  Business owners and directors are angry. Many commented that the referendum result was based on lies and they have labelled the Brexit process a shambles, and (excluding ‘don’t knows) 79% want a second EU referendum once the terms of the Brexit deal become clear.

“Scottish business is rejecting the UK Government’s shambolic Brexit plans and has made it very clear that Brexit is bad for business, bad for the economy, bad for jobs and could be disastrous for key sectors, so we need the opportunity to think again on Brexit once the arrangements are finalised, especially if they don’t include arrangements for Scottish business to have full membership of the single market and customs union.”

Picture courtesy of Tiocfaidh ár lá 1916

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