People in Scotland are unhappy with the way the Brexit negotiations are going and are concerned that the British Government is not doing enough to take the needs of the country into account.

In particular there are concerns about access for European Union workers after March 2019 as many parts of the workforce rely on them, especially in agriculture.


Workers from the EU are vital for rural Scotland’s continued success, stability and sustainability, according to Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing who pointed out that people from the EU make up around 3% of those employed in the rural economy.

Additionally, some 10,000 people are directly employed in Scotland’s food and drink growth sector as well as thousands more in public services such as hospitals and schools in remote and rural communities.

While visiting Glenrath Farm in the Scottish Borders, where more than half the workforce are EU nationals, Ewing said that the Scottish Government values the contribution of EU migrants to the economy and society.

‘Retaining unhindered access to this reliable workforce is of particular importance, given the distinct demographic pressures we face, and is key to reducing potential future labour shortages,’ he explained.

‘With 3% of our rural workforce dependent on EU nationals, many who have chosen to settle here permanently, it is clear any restrictions on access to EU workers would be significantly detrimental for the sector, potentially leading to reduced domestic produce in favour of imports,’ he pointed out.

‘Retaining access to this talent pool via single market membership is essential to meet the needs of rural businesses and is a priority in safeguarding the continued success, stability and sustainability of our rural economy,’ he added.

According to Ian Campbell, managing director at Glenrath Farm, it would be difficult to run the business without being able to employ workers from Eastern European countries as 52% of the workforce are from there.

‘Since the Brexit vote in June 2016 we have had difficulty in retaining our Eastern European employees. Some of our employees feel that they are no longer welcome in the British community,’ he explained.

‘Additionally the fall in the value of the Pound and an increase in the cost of living has made working in the UK a less attractive option. Fear of the unknown and the potential cost of obtaining work permits is preventing our staff from making the decision to stay in Scotland for the long term,’ he added.

Meanwhile, Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has written to the Prime Minister Theresa May to voice concerns about how the negotiations are progressing. ‘I was concerned to read further reports this week that the UK Government has apparently ruled out any form of Customs Union with the EU. The people of Scotland voted decisively to remain within the European Union, and it is the role of the Scottish Government to make sure that their interests are protected,’ she said in the letter.

‘It cannot be right that decisions on the future relationship with the EU are being taken without due regard for consultation across the four Governments of the UK. In light of the timetable ahead of the European Council on 22 March 2018, there must be urgent and meaningful discussion between us to try to agree a UK position and therefore enable our European partners to respond,’ she added.