Alyn Smith to German firms: “Come to Scotland!”

Nathanael Williams

On day Article 50 is triggered, one of Scotland’s MEPs makes the case for Scotland as a dynamic business centre within the EU

“COME TO SCOTLAND” was the rallying cry from Scottish MEP Alyn Smith as he outlined why Scotland’s prospects of being an independent country inside the EU was viable and a successful option.

His statement follow comments from the head of the association of German Chambers of Commerce and Industry (DIHK) that Brexit will “seriously damage business with the UK.”

His words also come as UK Prime Minister Theresa May signed a letter today (29 March) to be sent to EU President Donald Tusk, triggering Article 50 to begin formally leaving the EU.

Yesterday (28 March) the Scottish Parliament voted by a margin of 69 to 59 to give consent to First Minister Nicola Sturgeon to ask the UK Government for the legal right to hold another referendum on Scottish independence.

The SNP MEP, in an interview to Deutsch Welle, said: “One in 10 German firms is looking actively at leaving the UK. Well instead of that how about coming to Scotland. Where we will remain as part of the single market as an independent state. Obviously there’s a lot of things to be discussed and a lot of things to be agreed. Of course there is an application to the EU. 

“Of Course there is a negotiation, of course we’ll need the support of other EU members. But the EU is an expansionist organisation that does not want to lose neighbours. So we’ve got oil, we’ve got gas, we’ve got renewables and fisheries. We’ve got biotech and all kinds of good economic sectors that shows a strong proposition.”

According to Eric Schweitzer president of the DIHK, which surveyed 2,200 internationally active companies, German firms believe Brexit “will seriously damage business with the United Kingdom.”

Nine per cent of firms invested in the UK now plan to shift investments elsewhere, with Germany, the Republic of Ireland (RoI) and the rest of the EU the top choices for their relocation plans.

“One in ten German firms is looking activity at leaving the UK. Well instead of that how about coming to Scotland.” Alyn Smith MEP

The UK is currently the third-biggest export market for Germany after the US and France, buying some 86bn euros of goods and services last year. The DIHK has estimated that about 750,000 German jobs are dependent on exports to the UK making German small and middle sized businesses vulnerable to a hard Brexit.

Over 2,500 German firms trading in the UK have created about 400,000 jobs, compared with around 220,000 people in Germany employed by 1,200 British firms. Of these businesses about 40 per cent expect trade to get worse in the coming months after the triggering of Article 50. This adds to a recent fall over the past year of German exports to the UK by 3.5 percent.

Schweitzer added: “There should be as few limitations to movement of goods and as little additional bureaucracy as possible. Too many concessions by the EU in the negotiations must not endanger the single market”.

After receiving the Article 50 letter from May and the UK Government, the EU 27 remaining members will formulate a response in 48 hours and plan to meet on 29 April to hammer out a united negotiation position.

Picture property of CommonSpace

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