City warns SNP: Back Brexit deal or you risk 7,500 highly skilled jobs and £2bn a year

The Scottish Mail on Sunday - - News - By Gareth Rose

FAIL­ING to back Theresa May’s Brexit deal risks thou­sands of Scot­tish fi­nance jobs and bil­lions to the econ­omy, Ni­cola Stur­geon has been warned.

The First Min­is­ter says her 35 Na­tion­al­ist MPs will vote against the With­drawal Agree­ment next week.

But Miles Celic, chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer of The City UK, which rep­re­sents the fi­nan­cial sec­tor, warns this could mean a ‘no deal’ Brexit and re­sult in ‘sig­nif­i­cant eco­nomic dis­rup­tion’.

The dam­age could in­clude the loss of 7,500 high-skilled, high-paid jobs and £2 bil­lion a year in eco­nomic ac­tiv­ity from Scot­land’s fi­nance sec­tor.

Mr Celic has per­son­ally lob­bied the First Min­is­ter, warn­ing against a Brexit that is bad for busi­ness and in­sist­ing she must get be­hind Mrs May’s pro­pos­als as ‘the only deal on the ta­ble’.

But the SNP leader has re­jected calls for unity and vows her party will con­tinue to op­pose the deal in the Com­mons, seek­ing ei­ther a se­cond ref­er­en­dum or a deal that would keep the UK in the EU’s sin­gle mar­ket and cus­toms union.

Yet with nei­ther of those op­tions on the ta­ble, Mr Celic says Ms Stur­geon is ac­tu­ally in­creas­ing the risk of a no-deal Brexit.

He said: ‘There’s one deal on of­fer. The pri­or­ity of our mem­bers and our in­dus­try is re­ally clear – no deal brings sig­nif­i­cant eco­nomic dis­rup­tion, brings un­cer­tainty. No busi­ness wel­comes un­cer­tainty.

‘This is about min­imis­ing dis­rup­tion, min­imis­ing un­cer­tainty. This is the only deal on the ta­ble.’

The City UK com­mis­sioned anal­y­sis by the Oliver Wy­man con­sul­tancy agency on pos­si­ble Brexit sce­nar­ios in­clud­ing no deal leav­ing the UK on World Trade Or­gan­i­sa­tion (WTO) terms. Re­flect­ing on likely job losses, Mr Celic said: ‘At the WTO end, 75,000 jobs out of an eco-sys­tem of 2.3 mil­lions.

‘About 35,000 were fi­nan­cial ser­vices and 40,000 re­lated pro­fes­sional ser­vices. In terms of the UK-wide pic­ture, worst case sce­nario is £18 bil­lion to £20 bil­lion worth of eco­nomic ac­tiv­ity af­fected by WTO terms of Brexit.’

Adding that it was ‘not un­rea­son­able’ to ex­pect 10 per cent of that im­pact to be felt in Scot­land, he warned: ‘This is the only deal of­fered. It’s the deal ne­go­ti­ated by the Eu­ro­pean Union. Ob­vi­ously it car­ries com­pro­mises.

‘Get­ting through the With­drawal Agree­ment, the tran­si­tional pe­riod, gives our in­dus­try the cer­tainty we need that al­lows us to kick start talks on the fu­ture re­la­tion­ship.’

If there is no deal, he warned: ‘The big­ger risk isn’t an im­plo­sion, it’s a slow punc­ture. Over time, in a way that is prob­a­bly ini­tially im­per­cep­ti­ble, peo­ple will de­cide not to in­vest as much in the UK.

‘Or they might take the de­ci­sion, when they hire their next group of spe­cial­ists or high-paid work­ers, they might do that in an­other city.

‘Or, when they’re look­ing to set up a new of­fice, maybe that will be in Asia rather than the UK.’

Last night, crit­ics urged the First Min­is­ter to tell her MPs to back the With­drawal Agree­ment.

Scot­tish Tory chief whip Mau­rice Golden said: ‘Any­one op­pos­ing it needs to re­alise the chaos and up­heaval – not to men­tion se­vere eco­nomic dam­age – a no deal sce­nario would bring. If Ni­cola Stur­geon wants what’s best for Scot­land, she’ll lis­ten to busi­ness and back this deal.’

But the Scot­tish Govern­ment re­it­er­ated Ms Stur­geon’s speech on Tues­day, in which she dis­missed the ‘bad deal’, say­ing: ‘It will not end un­cer­tainty, it will ex­tend it.

‘We’re be­ing asked to ac­cept a blind­fold Brexit with the dif­fi­cult de­ci­sions kicked down the road.’

‘If she wants what’s best she’ll lis­ten to busi­ness’

WARN­ING: But will Ni­cola Stur­geon pay at­ten­tion to Miles Celic, above?

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