Leaving the EU: Business Growth in Scotland

Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 16th October 2018.

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Photo of Peter Grant Peter Grant Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Europe), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Exiting the European Union) 12:00 am, 16th October 2018

What assessment he has made of the effect on business growth in Scotland of the UK leaving the EU internal market.

Photo of Patrick Grady Patrick Grady SNP Chief Whip

What assessment he has made of the effect on business growth in Scotland of the UK leaving the EU internal market.

Photo of Gavin Newlands Gavin Newlands Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Sport), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Northern Ireland), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Wales)

What assessment he has made of the effect on business growth in Scotland of the UK leaving the EU internal market.

Photo of Greg Clark Greg Clark The Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

Reaching a good agreement with the European Union will have a positive effect on business growth in Scotland and in every other part of the United Kingdom. In Green GB Week, it is important to highlight the huge clean growth opportunities in Scotland in a sector that supports tens of thousands of jobs and brings £11 billion into Scotland’s economy.

Photo of Peter Grant Peter Grant Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Europe), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Exiting the European Union)

Yesterday, AstraZeneca joined a long line of major UK employers that have put investment plans on hold because of Brexit uncertainty. The Governor of the Bank of England has indicated that, even before we leave, Brexit has already cost £900 per UK household. Does the Secretary of State agree with the Governor’s estimate? If he does not, what is his estimate of what Brexit has cost us to date?

Photo of Greg Clark Greg Clark The Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

The hon. Gentleman’s point underlines why it is important that we secure a positive deal, and the implication of that analysis is that if we do secure that deal, as I hope and expect that we will, there will be a substantial upside for the economy. The hon. Gentleman is interested in the negotiations because they provide us with access to European markets, but it is a matter of record that the Scottish National party wants to take Scotland out of the internal market of the United Kingdom by dint of leaving the rest of the UK, with which Scotland does four times as much trade as it does with the rest of the EU, so I would call for a bit of consistency from the hon. Gentleman.

Photo of Patrick Grady Patrick Grady SNP Chief Whip

This is just nonsense. Does the Secretary of State not accept that, by definition, the best possible relationship with the European Union has to be membership and therefore that leaving the single market and ending the freedom of movement of goods, services and people will inevitably be bad for business? Can he offer any reassurances at all to the 134,000 Scottish workers whose jobs the Fraser of Allander Institute estimates are reliant on trade with the EU?

Photo of Greg Clark Greg Clark The Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

The proposals have been warmly welcomed by businesses across the country, including in Scotland, because they would allow us to continue what are successful trading arrangements without frictions.

Photo of Gavin Newlands Gavin Newlands Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Sport), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Northern Ireland), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Wales)

In its Brexit risk assessment, Airbus said that if the UK left the EU without a deal, that

“would lead to severe disruption and interruption of UK production” and

“would force Airbus to reconsider its investments in the UK, and its long-term footprint in the country”.

What steps is the Secretary of State, along with the wholly united Cabinet, taking to ensure that more firms do not depart Brexit Britain?

Photo of Greg Clark Greg Clark The Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

We need to make sure that we have a negotiated deal along the lines of the proposals made in the White Paper that have been welcomed by the manufacturing industry in all parts of the UK.

Photo of Stephen Kerr Stephen Kerr Conservative, Stirling

One of the effects of leaving the European Union is that Scottish businesses will not have access to patient capital from the European Investment Bank, so will my right hon. Friend take the time to review the industry panel’s response to the patient capital review, which highlights the need for a patient capital investment vehicle? With only a few changes, the British Business Bank could become such a vehicle.

Photo of Greg Clark Greg Clark The Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

My hon. Friend is right. Part of the industrial strategy is about making more patient capital available in Scotland and all across the UK for growing businesses, of which he has many in his constituency.

Photo of James Heappey James Heappey Conservative, Wells

Does the Secretary of State agree that our membership of the internal energy market is not necessarily conditional on our membership of the wider single market? Does he agree that we would be better off were we to remain within the internal energy market, with all the energy security advantages that that brings?

Photo of Greg Clark Greg Clark The Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

My hon. Friend anticipates some negotiations that will need to take place on our future economic partnership. Suffice it to say, however, that we have a mutual interest in the interconnection between the UK and the continent, and it is strongly in the interests of consumers in this country and on the continent that the ability to trade over those interconnectors should continue.

Photo of Andrew Bowie Andrew Bowie Conservative, West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine

Has my right hon. Friend made any assessment of the impact on business growth in Scotland if it left the UK’s internal market?

Photo of Greg Clark Greg Clark The Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

It would be disastrous. The value of exports from Scotland to the rest of the UK is £45.8 billion, compared with around £12.5 billion to the rest of the EU, so anyone who, like me, is interested in being able to trade without frictions should apply their own analysis to their own policy of pulling out of the UK.

Photo of Drew Hendry Drew Hendry Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)

Scotland’s financial sector has described the prospect of a no deal Brexit as “horrific”. Does the Secretary of State agree that to protect businesses and to stay in the single market and the customs union the resignations of the Secretary of State for Scotland and Ruth Davidson are a price well worth paying?

Photo of Greg Clark Greg Clark The Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

I hope that the hon. Gentleman supports the Government’s determination to ensure that the integrity of the whole of the United Kingdom is guaranteed by the negotiation. He suggests that the consequences of no deal would be negative; of course they would. That is why we are doing everything we can, with increasing confidence, to secure a positive deal with the rest of the European Union. I hope he will support that.