The UK government has been called to reveal the impact that leaving the European Union will have on Scotland’s financial sector amid fresh concern over potential job losses.
It follows a warning from the Bank of England that up to 75,000 finance jobs could be put at risk by Brexit, with Edinburgh home to the largest number of positions in the UK outside of London.
Last week Brexit secretary David Davis refused to confirm or deny the existence of regional Brexit studies, but David Mundell said the information would be shared with the Scottish Government.
Edinburgh Eastern MSP and Holyrood finance
committee member Ash Denham yesterday launched a fresh push for more information on what might happen.
Ms Denham said it was the act of a “reckless, irresponsible government” not to publish findings on the impact of Brexit.
She said: “In light of these latest warnings from the Bank of England it is high time we got some answers.
“If the Tories drag Scotland’s economy off a cliff edge and we crash out of Europe without a deal, then how many jobs are they putting at risk – and will they give our Scottish
Parliament the powers to prevent that scenario from happening?
“While the SNP is promoting Edinburgh and Scotland’s cities as great places to come to live, work and study the Tories would rather see skilled jobs go to Paris or Frankfurt.
“The position is becoming completely untenable. The UK government has had a 15-month period to devise a strategy which doesn’t result in economic self-harm. It’s clear that they’re failing badly and we shouldn’t stand for it.”
Scotland’s financial services industry employs up to 180,000 people directly and indirectly, including about 20,000 EU workers. It contributes £8bn to the economy, with finance giants based north of the border including Bank of Scotland, Standard Life Aberdeen, Scottish Widows and Royal Bank of Scotland.
A previous London School of Economics study suggested economic output in Scotland could fall by £30bn over five years if Theresa May fails to secure a Brexit deal.
John McLellan, economy spokesman for the Edinburgh Tories, said anything which harmed the financial services sector across the UK would “obviously be a problem”.
But he added: “Until such times as we know more on our departure from the EU then it’s very difficult to tell what the impact is going to be.
“Clearly we hope that any damage at all to the Edinburgh financial services sector would be avoided. Given the strength of our sector’s relationship with the rest of the UK I’m confident that whatever storm comes its way it’s in a good position to weather it.”
Gavin Barrie, SNP councillor and convener the council’s housing and economy committee, said: “I share many people’s concerns that report after report appears to indicate a drastic future with regards to maintaining employment, particularly within the financial services industry.
“I would urge the Westminster Government to share all available information and reports regarding this so the both locally and nationally we can take steps to mitigate any threats to jobs and output, not only in the finance sector but across all realms of employment.”
The Department for Exiting the European Union previously said Mr Davis was “involved in a programme of close engagement with the Scottish Government”.