World Economy

Scotland Says Economy Strong, Can Withstand Brexit Pressures

The economy secretary says employment figures are very good.The economy secretary says employment figures are very good.

Scotland’s economy is “fundamentally strong” and ready to meet the challenges of Brexit, the economy secretary has said.

Keith Brown told the Unite conference that the economy is growing while the number of people in employment has risen. However he said withdrawal from the EU posed some “serious headwinds” and warned that a no-deal Brexit would be “catastrophic”, Scotsman reported.

He said Scotland would lose an estimated £11 billion ($14.44 billion) a year by 2030 in that scenario, while there would be 80,000 fewer jobs. Ensuring fair working conditions and defending employee rights are further challenges, he said.

He told the conference in Aviemore: “Scotland’s economy continues to face some serious headwinds from Brexit and rising inflation and that’s very much tied into the Brexit decision. We also still have issues around insecurity and zero-hours contracts.

“While employment figures are very good, we have to dig down into underemployment and exploitation. The Scottish economy is fundamentally strong and ready to meet these challenges.”

Brown reiterated the Scottish government’s position that Scotland’s interests would be best served by remaining in the EU and certainly within the single market.

He also said trade unions and Scottish ministers should work together to press the UK government to devolve employment law to Scotland. “With the powers that we have, we have worked hard to tackle in-work poverty and support people on low incomes.

“For example, we have prioritized the extension of the real living wage which has helped contribute to Scotland having the highest proportion of employees paid at least the living wage of all four UK countries.

“We continue to condemn the use of exploitative zero-hours contracts and have set up a Fair Work Convention to support the fair pay and conditions agenda. However, we cannot rely on the UK government to introduce fair work policies which align with Scotland’s inclusive growth agenda.

A UK government spokesman said recently: “Employment in Scotland has risen close to record levels, supported by a strong economy and wider welfare reforms. The Scottish government was given powers to develop employment programs to help the long-term unemployed and disabled people into work. We look forward to seeing what these schemes deliver.”

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