Fife business leader calls for clarity after Brexit vote

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon sought "immediate discussions" with Brussels to "protect Scotland's place in the EU" after UK's vote to leave.

Pic: Neil Hanna Photography
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon sought "immediate discussions" with Brussels to "protect Scotland's place in the EU" after UK's vote to leave. Pic: Neil Hanna Photography
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Fife Chamber of Commerce has called for clarity regarding the next steps and the potential implications for Scottish businesses following the EU referendum.

Alan Mitchell, chief executive, said the break up of a union which had survived for over 40 years would provoke uncertainty and urged governments to keep the business community informed.

He said: ”The UK has voted to leave the European Union and embark on a different journey in terms of our relationship with Europe and the wider world.

“The priority now for Fife’s and Scotland’s businesses is to understand what this will mean for them in practical terms.

“The UK Government must clearly explain the process of disengagement from the EU, and the timetable for this. The EU is a leading international market, worth over £11 billion in terms of exports of goods and services.

“An early priority must be for the UK Government to explain what they will aim to secure with regard to our future trading arrangements with the EU and other international markets. This will be critical for both importers and exporters.”

Richard Marsh director of 4-consulting cautioned, however, that claims of disaster voiced in the run-up to the referendum were not backed up by concrete evidence.

He said: “Fife has an impressive track record in bringing investment and jobs to our towns but the rest of the UK and America have usually provided far more investment than continental Europe.”

The banking industry was of more immediate concern, however, because Edinburgh had the highest share of its economy accounted for by financial services of any city across the UK, and is second only in Europe to Luxembourg.

“For Fife, the wages of commuters exceed one billion pounds each year, driven largely by financial and professional service companies based in Edinburgh,” Mr Marsh commented.

“The sustainability of large scale centres based around Dunfermline would also be in question, particularly as inward investment in financial services tends to be relatively footloose.”

However, if London lost access to the European single market while Edinburgh retained it, the potential advantage for Scotland would be significant.

“Edinburgh and Dunfermline would become far more attractive locations compared to cities like Manchester and London and they could then join Dublin and Paris as potential beneficiaries of Brexit,” Mr Marsh concluded.