It’s impossible now to pick up a newspaper, watch a political debate or generally just exist without sparking a discussion about Brexit and its implications. Every issue has an EU dimension and ultimately every discussion leads to the same question – “What would Brexit mean for you?”
With so much at stake and with so many vested interests and conflicting perspectives, in many ways Brexit has become like a high stakes card game. All the principal players, whether the UK government, the EU administration in Brussels, the Scottish Government here in Edinburgh, or the civic and business communities that have to function through continuing uncertainty, have been dealt a different hand.
The question now becomes, which side holds – and has the capacity to play – the best cards and which has a busted flush?
As one of Scotland’s leading public affairs companies, Indigo is thoroughly engaged with these questions and offering advice to our clients on the implications for their businesses and sectors. That’s why we’re delighted to have taken that support to a new level by appointing Struan Stevenson (Conservative MEP for Scotland, 1999-2014) as Indigo’s new Senior EU Policy Advisor.
With fifteen years’ experience working at the most senior levels in the European Parliament, there are few people in Scotland today better placed than Struan to provide industry-leading advice and insight on the choices facing Scotland regarding Europe, as well as the key personalities at the EU Commission, Parliament and Council levels that the UK will have negotiate with in the period ahead.
As no member state has ever left the EU before, a huge number of questions remain unanswered about Brexit. We know well that businesses trade organisations and those working in the third sector value certainty, so it is incumbent upon us all to understand the process and potential outcomes for the UK and Scotland if we are to navigate the period ahead with confidence.
In early October we held a productive roundtable discussion with business leaders in Scotland’s commercial property sector focussing on what Brexit might deliver for them in terms of both risk and opportunity, focussing particularly on vital issues such as inward capital investment and freedom of movement for workers.
With Struan’s support we will be holding similar seminars and events with leaders in other key sectors of the Scottish economy and civic life to help them engage, discuss and tackle constructively the key questions prompted by Brexit that concern them.
It is clear that the sheer complexity of the political questions that we all face in the run-up to next year’s triggering of Article 50 and beyond, can seem overwhelming to many. However what early discussions show is that whilst the uncertainty caused by Brexit is a matter of concern, there are also a number of opportunities on the political horizon for businesses leaders prepared to stay strategically engaged on the issues.
Our message at this time is that clear, authoritative, evidence-based insight and intelligence can be the ace in any organisation’s hand.
Peter Smyth is Head of Public Affairs at Indigo