The Scottish Government is working to accelerate inclusive economic growth across Scotland and in all the communities in Renfrewshire South. The national economic action plan that I launched supports a competitive business environment, including through investment in a highly skilled workforce and a diverse economy. A range of investments will continue to be made, now and in the future.
I recently attended—with Derek Mackay, with the Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs, Fiona Hyslop, and with Paisley’s MSP, George Adam—the launch of Renfrewshire Council’s bold and ambitious new economic strategy for the coming decade. Does the cabinet secretary share my concerns that the positive collaboration between SNP-led Renfrewshire Council and local partners could be undermined by the Tories’ damaging Brexit deal, which Michael Gove admitted at last week’s meeting of the Finance and Constitution Committee would give businesses in Northern Ireland better access than Scotland to the 500 million-strong European Union single market?
Yes—I agree with that concern. We are not alone in being concerned about the impact that Brexit will have on economies across Scotland—not least in Renfrewshire. Very positive work has been done with the council around the economic plan for the area, where the Government is, as a partner, making the right interventions and investments to help to grow the economy sustainably.
Of course, on the very day of the launch, the co-chair of the partnership—who is a businessman from the Scottish Leather Group—announced 100 new jobs in Renfrewshire, but also expressed concern about the threat of Brexit. So, when we hear people such as Boris Johnson talking about “getting Brexit done”, what that means is doing in people’s jobs across Scotland, when we are trying to do so much to grow our economy in a responsible way. We believe that the best way to stop Brexit is to end Brexit, and to end the Tory Government’s term of office.