August 16, 2018

Brexit 'could hit Scottish growth by 9%'

09 February 2018, 01:38 | Austin Hogan

Brexit 'could hit Scottish growth by 9%'

Michel Barnier the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator says checks on the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic will be “unavoidable” if the UK leaves the customs union

But after Labour threatened a binding Commons vote, which the Conservative Government look set to lose, the Prime Minister relented, indicating she would release the details to MPs and the devolved administrations on a "confidential basis". The West Midlands, which had the biggest Brexit majority, will see its economic growth cut by 13 per cent over 15 years if Britain leaves without a deal, according to the report.

Meanwhile, the government's 11-strong Brexit cabinet sub-committee will meet on Wednesday and Thursday in an attempt to agree a vision of post-Brexit relations with the EU. The importance of these meetings was emphasised by warnings from the Irish government to the British not to renege on their commitments on the border reached only last month.

Yet after MPs were given the detailed figures to read under controlled conditions, they were swiftly leaked and suggest that for Scotland the loss to growth under the three scenarios - single market membership, trade deal or no deal - would be 2.5 per cent, six per cent and nine per cent respectively.

By comparison, a free trade deal would hit London's growth by just 2%, growing to 3.5% in a no deal scenario, and just 1% if the country stays in the single market.

Leave-voting Wales would suffer a 9.5 percent drop in GDP growth under a no-deal scenario, with Remain-backing Scotland facing a fall of 9 percent and Northern Ireland down by 12 percent.

In Commons on Wednesday, the SNP's Stephen Gethins appeared to confirm the 12% figure for Northern Ireland in a question to Northern Ireland Secretary, Karen Bradley.

The figures showed that the North East would take an 11% hit to economic growth under the Government's preferred outcome of a free trade deal with the European Union, while leaving with no deal will result in a 16% dip, and staying in the single market amounts to a 3% decline.

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Those costs have been expressed in percentage terms as if they were a regular tariff on trade.

Yesterday's discussion focused on future customs arrangements and their impact on the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic. That means that we are leaving the single market and the customs union. "It will take years to introduce", said one.

"What we need to realize is that if Britain and the North come out of the customs union, it's nearly irrelevant if there is some back-stop arrangement saying there should be some alignment of regulations and standards at the border".

" Blocking" may be going too far but not very.

For the United Kingdom as a whole, the GDP figures are 2% in the event of single market and customs union membership; 5% in the event of a trade deal; and 8% if there is no deal.

"The Tories must now explain why they accused the Scottish Government of scaremongering when their own government was covering up similar findings".

Former BBC journalist and manager in Belfast, Manchester and London, Editor Spolight; Political Editor BBC NI; Current Affairs Commissioning editor BBC Radio 4; Editor Political and Parliamentary Programmes, BBC Westminster; former London Editor Belfast Telegraph.

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