The research by the National Institute of Economic and Social Research into how employers reacted to the Brexit referendum vote is fascinating in the glimpse it gives us in to the emotions of those it interviewed, as well as their views on what impact it would have. There were also worrying revelations about changes already taking place.
Emotional responses included shock, horror, devastation and grief. How many other political decisions have instigated such deep visceral feelings?
On a more practical level, there are fears about the impact that the loss of free movement of workers within the EU will bring, with many of these employers reliant to a lesser or greater extent on foreign migrant workers. Some might say that this will free up more jobs for the resident population, but the fact is that in many cases there are not enough locals who want to take the jobs on.
Scotland’s reliance on migrant workers is greater than that of the UK as a whole, so it is right and proper that the Scottish Government is exploring every avenue to try to maintain a beneficial relationship with the EU, although it has to be said it is not clear what the practical solution will be, and there are many obstacles to any agreement.
But the most concerning aspect of Dr Heather Rolfe’s research is that the EU workers now feel they are unwelcome in Scotland and have even experienced hostile comments in the workplace and uncertainty means it is already harder to attract them. We need a concerted effort to get the message out that we are still a welcoming nation, and each of us should remember that and play a part in that wherever we can.