Meeting with business leaders at Bute House
Businesses urge unity ‘to protect Scotland’s interests’
CBI Scotland chairman Alison McGregor, welcomed today’s commitment from First Minister Nicola Sturgeon to allow EU nationals to continue living and working in Scotland. Ms McGregor also called for infrastructure projects to go ahead as planned to reassure investors and instil confidence in the economy.
Referring to EU nationals working in Scotland, she said: “We recognise that further work is needed at a UK level. They contribute hugely to our economy and their skills are crucial to the success of our businesses, both now and into the future.
“The Scottish Government should be closely involved in the UK government negotiations with the EU to help get the best deal for Scottish companies – and business stands ready to play its part too. Companies need access to the single market, trade deals and skills.
“Action to progress long-planned infrastructure projects and national priorities like education should also go ahead as planned. This will help to reassure investors and businesses by signalling confidence in the economy.
“Addressing these issues would be a first step towards providing certainty, and send the right message across the world.”
Ms Sturgeon called today’s Summit to discuss what measures can be taken to protect the Scottish economy from the Brexit decision.
Apart from the CBI, other organisations represented at the Bute House talks were the Institute of Directors, Federation of Small Businesses, Scottish Council for Development and Industry, Scottish Financial Enterprise and the Scottish Chambers of Commerce.
Speaking ahead of the meeting, the First Minister said: “We are faced with a decision that this country did not take or want, and we must now respond to something not of our making. But all options to protect Scotland’s place in Europe are on the table and will remain there.
“Scotland’s economy is fundamentally strong, but continued EU membership and our place in the world’s biggest single market is absolutely vital when it comes to protecting jobs, investment and long-term-prosperity.
“Clearly there is now uncertainty for business, so we need to protect Scotland from that as much as possible. Today’s meeting with leading business organisations is a vital step in that process, as Scotland’s business community has a great deal to play in this – by coming together today they can start to map out a united response, which will be crucial in protecting Scotland’s interests.”
Economy Secretary Keith Brown said: “They key message I and other Ministers have been relaying is that we are still firmly in the EU and business and trade should continue as normal. On that front, nothing has changed.
“We know that Scotland is an attractive place to do business and we are continue to be open for business with European partners and further afield.
“What we’ll be discussing with business leaders is how we preserve and strengthen those links, and what steps we can collectively take to ensure Scotland’s strong economic position is maintained.”
Ms Sturgeon also hosted a gathering of diplomats representing EU countries at Bute House to discuss how the Scottish Government can provide further reassurance to all EU citizens living in Scotland.
She said: “I have made it very clear that citizens of EU countries who have decided to make Scotland their home should receive an absolute guarantee from the UK Government that their status here is safe and secure.”
David Mundell, Scottish Secretary, also met business leaders today and urged a joint approach for the benefit of Scotland.
He said: “Today’s positive and constructive meeting was just the start of an on-going dialogue between Scotland’s two governments and the business community in Scotland on the issue of EU exit.
“The overwhelming message from this morning is that Scottish businesses want the UK and Scottish governments to work closely together as part of a ‘Team UK’ to find a constructive way forward. Our aim should be to unite to ensure the best deal for Scotland and the whole UK as we take forward the necessary work following last week’s referendum result.
“We need to work more closely together than ever before to secure the best outcome in these negotiations. As the UK Government’s Secretary of State for Scotland, my priority is to ensure that we work closely with the Scottish Government in the months and years ahead and to make sure that Scottish voices and Scottish interests are at the heart of the negotiation process.”