Scotland will suffer an 8.5% hit to the size of its economy by 2030 if the UK leaves the EU with no trade deal, the Scottish regional government said yesterday as it upped its calls for the UK to stay in the EU’s single market.
Business investment in Scotland could fall by up to 10.2%, compared with continued membership of the EU, in the event of no Brexit deal, the devolved Scottish government said in a new economic impact assessment.
Scotland’s first minister Nicola Sturgeon, who campaigned hard against Brexit, said the UK remaining in the EU’s single market, if not the bloc itself, was now the best realistic option.
However, it would still hurt Scotland.
“If Brexit is to proceed then staying in the single market is the only option that makes sense,” she told reporters.
Staying in the single market as a member of the European Economic Area would mean Scotland’s economy would be 2.7% smaller by 2030 than it would be if Brexit did not happen at all, Ms Sturgeon said.
“None of these options are as good as staying within the EU,” she said.
Scotland’s economy represents less than a tenth of Britain’s economy as a whole.
Voters in Scotland voted to remain in the EU in the June 2016 Brexit referendum. However, UK voters overall, in England and Wales, backed leaving.
The report said the only credible outcome of the Brexit negotiations between Brussels and London due to take place this year was for the UK to be a member of the European Economic Area.
However, prime minister Theresa May has ruled out the UK becoming part of the group which would involve continued unrestricted freedom of movement of workers from the EU into the UK, something Ms May has said she will end.
Opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn has also said the UK should leave the single market.
However, Ms Sturgeon said she believed his position could be changed if there was enough opposition from within Labour. Mr Corbyn has said that his Labour Party is not supporting or calling for a second referendum on EU membership.
“We are not supporting or calling for a second referendum; what we’ve called for is a meaningful vote in parliament,” he said over the weekend.
It comes as a stand-off between the UK and the EU over the future of London’s vast financial services industry is shaping up as one of the key Brexit battlegrounds of this year.