Rennie: British business deserves better than Brexit uncertainty

Commenting on new figures from the Scottish Chambers of Commerce warning that business investment and confidence is falling in the face of an uncertain political environment, Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie said:

"Businesses are right to be concerned about the threat posed by a no deal Brexit, which the Chancellor has confirmed will cost the UK £36 billion.

"The Conservatives' undue reputation for business savvy is lying in tatters.

"The Liberal Democrats demand better for British business. The people must be given the final say on Brexit, including an option to remain."

Commenting on the results, Neil Amner of Anderson Strathern and Chair of the Scottish Chambers of Commerce Economic Advisory Group, said:

Our survey results for the third quarter of 2018 suggest that the Scottish economy continues to be resilient, but firms are becoming cautious as uncertainty grows around the future trading environment with the European Union. Investment in Q3 and future expectations of investment are beginning to show signs of slowing across many of the analysed sectors.

“Although optimism remains relatively strong throughout the national sample, levels of business confidence have also softened relative to the second quarter.  It’s particularly concerning to see the manufacturing sector report a negative score for optimism. This is the first negative score reported since the third quarter of 2016, suggesting that the combination of rising material costs and continued uncertainty around future trading conditions are beginning to affect the confidence of businesses in this sector.” 

Professor Graeme Roy, Director at the University of Strathclyde’s Fraser of Allander Institute said:

"This survey is further clear evidence of the importance of securing a smooth Brexit transition to protect Scotland’s economy. Whether you agree or disagree with the decision to leave the EU, it is essential that we have an orderly transition. The analysis undertaken by the Chambers of Commerce shows that it is vital that a deal is reached to enable firms to prepare and develop contingency plans. Crashing out of the EU in March next year threatens to severely impact on businesses right across the Scottish economy."

On the UK’s Exit from the European Union, Neil Amner, said:

A recent Chamber of Commerce survey illustrated that 62% of firms across the UK have not conducted a Brexit related risk assessment.  This figure is higher in Scotland, at 67% of surveyed firms.  Furthermore, 21% of firms across the UK intend to cut investment levels if a ‘no-deal’ scenario comes to pass.  It’s difficult for firms, especially smaller businesses, to prepare without clarity on future arrangements. It is critical that the UK Government steps up to the plate to provide the certainty that business needs. Business communities need to see the UK Government working constructively with the whole of the UK and our EU partners to deliver certainty for business.” 

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