My Column

Theresa dancing around Brexit fiasco

  • Date: Monday 8th October 2018
column Picture

It was hard to get away from the media chatter around the Tory party conference last week – and the real elephant in the room.

Well, other than the PM’s dance moves, that is. I’ll give you a clue – it starts with B and ends in exit.

Adding to this commentary were the increasingly loud and exasperated voices of big businesses.

First, there was RBS chief executive Ross McEwan’s warning over the potential consequences of a no-deal Brexit scenario.

The banking boss raised eyebrows across the business community and beyond when he suggested that this could result in no economic growth, or worse.

His bank, which was famously bailed out during the recession, is already tightening up its lending, with retail and construction set to experience a particular pinch – a bitter pill to swallow when the UK construction sector has already slowed to its weakest pace in six months.

Mr McEwan reported that the bank’s lending to big businesses was down a couple of percentage points, with the climate of uncertainty delaying decision-making.

Japanese carmaker Nissan also stuck its headlights above the parapet last week when it warned against the effects of a hard Brexit on its manufacturing operations in the UK.

And this came against a general backdrop of uncertainty in the market, with newly released figures showing a 20 per cent drop in new car sales compared to the same period last year.

Only time will tell if we’re facing deal or no deal Brexit, but people are certainly making their voices heard.

It wasn’t just Brexit that was stirring the business community in the last seven days.

Elsewhere, there was also a warning from the head of UK Hospitality over the introduction of a so-called Tourist Tax north of the border.

The trade association’s executive director Willie Macleod told the Scottish Parliament that the disadvantages of the tax’s introduction would outweigh its projected advantages, while laying out his argument.

He estimates the proposed tax could cost the Scottish purse some £175 million – hardly pocket change if he’s correct.

Despite this, and the advancing autumnal weather, it wasn’t all doom and gloom for Scottish tourism and hospitality.

On the contrary, numerous success stories emerged in the last seven days too.

In the mainland’s northern extremity, business showed it is still booming off the back of the successful introduction of the North Coast 500 tourist route, as North 500 Motorhomes in Inverness announced it is expanding into the Central Belt and well as growing its fleet in the Highlands.

And in the Central Belt, Travelodge announced plans to create 60 Scottish jobs with new hotels in Edinburgh and Glasgow’s conference zones – a testament to the buoyancy of the conference market in the country’s leading cities.

Meanwhile, plans for a new woodland project aimed at driving more visitors to the country’s beautiful south were also revealed. The proposals for Glentress Forest could apparently generate up to £1 million for the local economy annually, as well as boosting visitor numbers and jobs to boot.

So yes, our political future may still be up in the air, but there is still some appetite to do business. 



Nobody puts Shetland in a box!

That was the cry which saw laws passed last week banning public bodies from literally placing the islands in a box on official documents.

The Shetland Islands – which are around 152 miles from the Scottish mainland – are frequently shown on maps in a box off the coast in order to save space.

The Ordnance Survey mapping agency said inset boxes avoid "publishing maps which are mostly sea". But MSP Tavish Scott led a campaign to ditch the boxing of the islands and change the law, labelling it a “geographical mistake” which was “intensely annoying” to locals.

The change was bundled up as a “mapping requirement” amend within the Islands (Scotland) Bill.

The Bill offers greater protections and powers to the island communities. And Lib Dem MSP Tavish said the false location created the wrong impression of the challenges faced by the remote location.

Unsurprisingly the move has been welcomed by people interested in promoting the islands.

Only the Scottish Tories spoke out in support of the Ordnance Survey stance. Conservative MSP Peter Chapman called it impractical and warned it could reduce the amount of detail in maps due to scale.

That seems a fairly rational and practical argument, but it was clearly an issue for the islanders.

And with images of this unique and wonderful land appearing on everything from £5 notes to school maps, it’ll certainly be a big change.

Whatever your arguments, the campaigners for change have certainly put Shetland on the map.



I laughed this week as policy makers were forced into a U-turn over a move to ban free prawn crackers and poppadoms.

Nats ministers had targeted freebies given to punters with their takeaway as part of an anti-obesity drive.

A consultation document included proposals to stop restaurants and takeaways offering “purchase rewards” like free prawn crackers and poppadoms when customers spend over a certain amount when ordering food.

Takeaway fans vented their fury with some priceless responses being posted on Twitter

One wrote: “My heart just broke like a prawn cracker loaded too heavy with chow mein.”

Just eight hours after detailing the proposals in its policy consultation document, the Government denied this was the case, and the move was put back in its munchie box.



Footage of inspiring school boy Kieran Allen crossing the finish line at the Great Scottish Run brought a tear to many an eye last week.

The 10-year-old, who has quadriplegic cerebral palsy, proudly completed the iconic event after entering with his family to raise money for physio and occupational therapy.

Thousands cheered him during the final seconds of the race as the thrilled youngster battled to the end.

The entire run took roughly 27 minutes with Kieran completing most of it in his buggy before moving into his walking frame at the end.


We hear countless stories of endurance when mass participation events like the Great Scottish Run come to town, but Kieran’s story really stood out for me as he looked so happy completing the event.

Back to column listings

Recent News

News Archive