It was fun while it lasted, wasn’t it – watching Scotland at the finals of football’s European championship?
There was unity and hope as we willed on the young Scotland squad to victory – a rollercoaster of emotions played out in homes in every village, town and city across the country. With flags and bunting at every turn, young and old doning on their Scotland tops to show their support and businesses offering their unique Scotland EURO products; there was certainly plenty to celebrate. After such a challenging year, we showed our support for our national team as one community filled with pride and hope. While we didn’t quite get to the dizzying heights of the knockout phases, most of us watching will be pleased with the progress, in terms of the emerging talent and the look, of a team that will deliver in time. The hope lives on and roll on the next tournament.
Away from the football, back in parliament, my SNP colleagues and I have been working to protect our businesses and communities from further harm by Boris Johnson’s Global Britain Brexit mess.
The impacts of Brexit have been manifesting locally for some time, and the situation is only getting worse. Businesses across this constituency have reported dramatic falls in exporting, with orders from the EU disappearing entirely in some instances. Since Brexit, there has been a 33% drop in trade with the EU – this is real money lost to businesses who already face increased costs to work with the EU. Colossal new shipping charges, reams of paperwork and higher raw material costs are just some of the new burdens businesses are grappling with as part of post-Brexit Britain. The continued negligence from this UK Government means the situation is only going to get worse. In the past few months alone, our fishing, farming industry, and crofting communities join the list of sectors sold down the river.
Instead of working with others to sort out the issues of their making, Ministers are spending time chasing trade deals to support their narrative and spin – searching for the next big headline. Any trade deal will do; no cost seems too high to pay. Their latest deal with Australia can’t even scratch the surface of the losses businesses are already experiencing.
Perhaps the most visible impact here in the Strath has been on staffing. My office is taking increasingly desperate calls from hotels, restaurants and tourism businesses struggling to keep their doors open because of the staffing crisis they face. As readers will know, EU nationals have long made a valuable contribution to our workforce and our communities. The vile Brexit narrative and this Tory government’s commitment to a hostile immigration policy has understandably made the UK an unattractive place to come and work.
This, coupled with the ongoing housing situation across our communities, has created a staffing crisis without an easy solution. There isn’t a single answer to the problem, but it is clear that a new approach is needed. To solve this problem, we will need a collective will to change. I am committed to working with you all to tackle this crisis. It cannot be that families cannot afford to live in our communities because – if this does continue, there will be no community left.
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