With only a week to go before the General Election, Scotland’s businesses are focusing on the issue that is the key reason why this election is taking place at all: Brexit. Scottish Chambers of Commerce have consistently championed the key priorities for business throughout the referendum and its aftermath and will continue to do so following the election as the next UK Government gets down to the detail of complex negotiations. Liz Cameron, Chief Executive of Scottish Chambers of Commerce, said:
“Brexit is perhaps the main reason why the country is having to deal with this unplanned General Election. It will be the paramount economic issue facing the next UK Government and will dominate the activities of the next Parliament. As soon as a Government is formed, it will have to get down to negotiations with the EU immediately and, in doing so, it must seek to put the priorities of our businesses first.
“The most immediate priority for many businesses is the urgent need to secure absolute clarity on the long term futures of EU nationals in the workforce. There are a significant number of businesses in Scotland which rely on the talents of EU nationals to keep the wheels of industry turning and that is why we are calling on the new Government to take action to resolve this issue within its first 100 days. Giving these workers – and UK workers in the EU – security of employment and residency will help businesses to get on with the job of creating the wealth and opportunities that our country needs to make a success of Brexit.
“We are also prioritising the need for Scottish businesses to have a direct route into influencing the negotiation process between the UK and the EU. During the General Election campaign, we have again heard much about the Government’s plans for ‘tough negotiation’. There is a place for this but if Government is to secure a deal that delivers for British business, then our negotiators need to be at least as smart as they are tough. Scotland has a wealth of experienced business people with the knowledge and skills to play a key role in this process and the next UK Government must set out a route to enable our trade experts to have a voice in the negotiations.
“The EU remains a vitally important market for Scottish businesses and this is particularly true as we look to grow the number of Scottish businesses that are exporting. The EU represents a large nearby market with which the UK has a high degree of regulatory convergence and has long been a first choice destination for new exporters. That is why the next UK Government must pursue a trade deal with the EU that ensures access to the Single Market with an absolute minimum of financial tariff barriers and continued low non-tariff barriers. Trade deals with the rest of the world will come but may take time, therefore many Scottish businesses will continue to prioritise UK and EU trade.
“How the next Government sets out its stall on Brexit negotiations will be telling, and business must be at the centre of its plans.”