Economic experts back Nicola Sturgeon’s call to delay Brexit

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Economy experts have backed Nicola Sturgeon’s call to delay Brexit, warning a disorderly separation from the European Union would risk Scotland‘s delicate economic growth.

The suggestion was made by the Fraser of Allander Institute as it published a report warning of the economic consequences of a no-deal Brexit.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon. Picture: Jane Barlow/PA Wire

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon. Picture: Jane Barlow/PA Wire

Prime Minister Theresa May has already ruled out an extension of the Article 50 negotiating period, but First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said it should be on the table.

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Professor Graeme Roy, director of the think-tank, said: “Whether you agree or disagree with the decision to leave the EU – and irrespective of the nature of the final settlement – it is essential that we have an orderly transition. To enable firms to prepare and develop contingency plans it is vital that a deal is reached. Should this require more time to negotiate a workable solution, then so be it.

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“Extending the Article 50 negotiation period – but maintaining the same transition timescale to 2020 – may be unpalatable for some but could be essential to protect jobs and livelihoods.”

While the Fraser of Allander Institute said it expected economic growth of 1.3 per cent this year for Scotland, followed by 1.4 per cent  in both 2019 and 20202, it stressed there was a  “heightened degree of uncertainty” about forecasts at the current time.

“Our forecasts are based upon a broad-based agreement between the UK and the EU,” the report said.

“Should this not happen, then our forecasts are likely to change significantly.”

The report was published after MSPs debated the impact of Brexit on trade. Scottish trade minister Ivan McKee said Holyrood and the Scottish Government must have a say in the deals, but claimed he was not demanding any vetos over them.

The minister continued: “The Scottish Government and Scottish Parliament must have a guaranteed role in all stages of the formulation, negotiation, agreement and implementation of future trade deals.”

He denied Scottish Conservative claims this means the Scottish Government is seeking any vetos over UK-wide trade agreements.

Brexit Secretary Michael Russell said: “The Scottish Government has consistently argued that the best option for Scotland is to stay in the EU or, failing that, to stay in the European single market or customs union, which is around eight times bigger than the UK market alone.

“But we should not be faced with a choice between no-deal and a ‘blind Brexit’, with no significant detail on future trade relationships. That means – as the First Minister has called for – that an extension to the Article 50 period must be on the table, and we welcome the Fraser of Allander Institute support for that position. This report could not be clearer about the economic harm and chaos which could ensue from not reaching a deal.”