Ian Blackford urges single market reunion amid labour crisis

PMQs: Ian Blackford challenges Rishi Sunak on his 'compassion'

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Despite the Brexit decision being made six years ago, which was pointed out by a panellist on the show, audience members railed against the impact of the referendum which is continuing to impact businesses. Philip, an audience member asked the panel: “Can the British economy survive another two years of austerity?”

The question came after the Chancellor’s Autumn Budget on Thursday saw the return of austerity as the UK was officially plunged back into a recession.

Many members of the audience wished to discuss Brexit amid the current economic situation which they see as worsened by the referendum.

A number of the residents of Snape argued that a return to the European Union’s single market could resolve a few economic challenges.

Philip, said his business, which exports books to the EU, is “hanging in there” but that the Brexit decision which was made six years ago is a “disaster for our economy”.

He said: “The consequences of Brexit are still living with us, and I can tell you that, I am an exporter, and my business is still existing and hanging on in there.”

The audience member added: “I am determined to trade with our biggest market, I have no interest in trading with Australia or New Zealand.

“We need to export to our biggest and most obvious market which is 20 miles across the Channel.”

Panellist Ian Blackford, an SNP MP for Ross, Skye and Lochaber, slammed Brexit which Scotland voted against and said that Scotland’s suggestions during Brexit talks would have tackled the issues faced by businesses such as Philip’s.

Mr Blackford said: “We did warn the UK Government right through the Brexit talks that there was a compromise position and that was staying in the single market and the customs union and that would have addressed your challenges, Philip.

“Lots of economic analysis done at the time has been proven to be correct. Leaving the EU, the Brexit deal, was going to hit our economy by four percent.”

He added: “If it weren’t for Brexit then we wouldn’t have needed the austerity that we’ve got coming down the line.”

Mr Blackford discussed the labour shortages facing businesses due to Brexit and the coronavirus pandemic by noting an example of a bakery in the Scottish Highlands.

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According to the SNP MP, since Covid, 1.3 million citizens from the EU have returned home meaning “they’ve been lost to the economy”.

He continued: “That’s the impact on the labour market and let me give you the very real example of a bakery in my own constituency in Fort William.

“Sixty percent of their staff used to be European trained qualified bakers; they now can’t recruit them.

“That’s the missing growth opportunity. That’s what Brexit has done to us.”

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