Tens of Thousands of Jobs At Risk Following ‘Hard Brexit’


New research prepared by Strathclyde University’s Fraser of Allander Institute predicts a swathe of negative impacts on the Scottish economy in the years following the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union.

It models the economic impact of Brexit for Scotland and the rest of the UK over a ten year period, and finds that Brexit is likely to have a negative impact on the Scottish economy even under the more optimistic scenarios considered.

The research, published today, has been prepared for the European Committee’s inquiry on the implications for Scotland of the EU referendum.

Joan McAlpine MSP, Convener of the Culture, Tourism, Europe and External Relations Committee, said:

“This report paints a grim picture of Scotland’s economy ten years after Brexit. Our Committee has already found that maintaining access to the single market is key for business and industry in Scotland. If the UK Government leads us into a ‘hard Brexit’, the evidence presented in this report indicates that there could be disastrous consequences for jobs, exports and production.”

Lewis Macdonald MSP, Deputy Convener, said:

“Business and industry leaders and workers face an uncertain future according to this evidence. GDP, wages and employment are all predicted to fall regardless of the route the UK takes to leave the EU.”

Professor Graeme Roy, Director of the University of Strathclyde’s Fraser of Allander Institute, said: “

“This report provides the first detailed assessment of the possible impact of Brexit on the Scottish economy. It shows that, under all modelled scenarios, Brexit is likely to have a significant negative impact on the Scottish economy. The range of possible outcomes is driven by the nature of any post-Brexit relationship between the UK and the EU – the weaker the economic integration with the EU, the greater the negative impact.”

Key findings of the report include:

  • Under all modelled scenarios, Brexit is predicted to have a negative impact on Scotland’s economy.
  • After 10 years, Scottish GDP is expected to be 2-3% lower than would otherwise be the case in the most optimistic ‘Norwegian scenario’ and 5% lower in the ‘WTO scenario’.
  • Impacts on the rUK economy are more severe than those on Scotland, reflecting rUK’s greater dependence on exports to the EU.
  • It could be argued that Brexit may make Scotland and rUK less attractive locations to live and work relative to the rest of the world.

The research paper outlines three different models reflecting the different types of settlement the UK might reach on leaving the EU.

The ‘Hard Brexit’ scenario would see the UK leave the EU without maintaining any existing economic and trade links. It would be required to negotiate new trade deals through the World Trade Organisation (WTO). The WTO model forecasts tens of thousands fewer jobs than would otherwise be the case, with 25,000 fewer jobs in the wholesale & retail trade, transportation and storage sector alone.

Other options explored are the ‘Swiss’ and ‘Norwegian’ models, which are considered the most likely models for the UK to adopt after Brexit. These scenarios result in less severe impacts on jobs and economic output.


The Convener’s quote refers to a report published by the Committee last month on the initial findings of its EU inquiry.

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