Scottish Labour publish Brexit economy 'action plan'

Union flag, Saltire and EU flag Image copyright AFP
Image caption Kezia Dugdale said Labour "stands with the majority of Scots" who have backed both the UK and the EU

Scottish Labour has published a Brexit action plan urging the Scottish and UK governments to act to avoid recession.

The party said the country's recent economic performance made "grim reading" even before factoring in the UK's vote to leave the EU.

They have called for measures including a Brexit Support Fund for at-risk industries and income tax increases.

The Scottish government set up an expert group in the aftermath of the Brexit vote to advise on the future.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has pledged to examine all options available to her to protect Scotland's interests in the wake of the referendum result.

Labour have set out a series of proposals for Westminster and Holyrood policies in the wake of the Brexit vote, aimed at boosting the economy and tackling uncertainty.

These include:

  • Legislating to require public sector contractors and sub-contractors to pay the living wage, and setting up a Living Wage Commission to lobby the private sector;
  • Using Holyrood's tax powers to increase income tax by a penny, alongside introducing a 50p top rate of income tax to raise funds to protect public services and invest in education;
  • Increased infrastructure spending from the government to create jobs and growth, particularly in house building;
  • Confirming that EU nationals currently studying, working and living in the UK can remain after Brexit;
  • A Brexit Support Fund to be set up to guarantee loans to businesses considered "strategically important".

Leader Kezia Dugdale said Labour supported the Scottish government's "efforts to secure Scotland's relationship with the EU", but underlined their "moral duty" to protect jobs and the economy.

She said: "The consequences of the UK voting to leave the EU will be felt for years to come, and the only thing we know for sure is that we don't know very much about what the future holds.

"Labour stands with the majority of Scots who want to be part of the UK and the EU - we won't give up pursuing those options but protecting jobs and public services must come first."

Economic interests

Labour's plan was announced in the same week as Nicola Sturgeon underlined what she described as Scotland's key interests in the Brexit negotiations.

One of these interests was economic - "safeguarding the free movement of labour, access to a single market of 500 million people and the funding that our farmers and universities depend on".

She also focused on social protection, "ensuring the continued protection of workers' and wider human rights", also featured in Labour's action plan.

Ms Sturgeon also spoke of the upheaval created by the vote as "an opportunity to be innovative and creative - an opportunity to shape the future".

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