‘Major costs’ to economy if Brexit transition not extended

Scottish Government paper shows 'there could be major costs to Scotland's economy for years to come'.

Billions of pounds could be wiped from Scotland’s economy if the UK Government refuses to extend the Brexit transition period, a new report is expected to show.

The Scottish Government is to publish the paper ahead of Constitution Secretary Mike Russell updating MSPs at Holyrood.

It comes as the July 1 deadline for the UK Government to request an extension to the Brexit transition period approaches.

The new report is thought to indicate there could be major costs to Scotland’s economy from Brexit for years to come and that, without an extension or a free trade deal being agreed, agriculture, fisheries and manufacturing could all be hit hard.

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Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has already urged the UK Government to “think again” over its refusal to extend the transition period beyond the end of this year.

And Mr Russell said: “Given the huge economic hit caused by coronavirus it would be an act of extraordinary recklessness for the UK Government to refuse to seek an extension.

“The Scottish Government believes the best future for Scotland is to be an independent member of the EU – but regardless of people’s views on independence or Brexit, it makes no sense to impose additional damage on Scotland’s economy at this, of all times.

“The actual impact will be worse because the Brexit shock would come hard on the heels of Covid-19 hitting businesses at their most vulnerable and giving business and government, currently rightly focused on this pandemic, insufficient time to prepare.”

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Meanwhile Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Wilie Rennie urged the leaders of Holyrood’s other parties to sign a joint letter to the UK Government requesting an extension of the transition period.

Mr Rennie said: “Extending the transition period is the only sensible option. So, I hope the other party leaders will join me in submitting a joint request for an extension.”