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