Published: 09/11/2017 16:21 - Updated: 10/11/2017 17:00

May to be told about Highlands' special Brexit case

 

'Highlands has benefitted hugely from EU'
 

 

A leading Highland councillor is to write to the Prime Minister to explain the "special case" of the Highlands in the European Union.

A damning new report has shown that hundreds of businesses in the north, including those in the agriculture, fishery, tourism, food, energy and educations sectors, are going to lose out when the Brexit process starts next year.

The report was presented to Highland Council’s environment, development and infrastructure committee yesterday when councillors agreed to write to Westminster, explaining that the Highlands will be more affected than elsewhere because of reliance on workers from elsewhere in the EU, particularly in the tourism sector, although a "huge amount of uncertainty" remains.

Inverness South councillor Ken Gowans said: "The over-riding theme here is uncertainty.

"There is no clarity at all and it is having a hugely detrimental impact on the Highlands."

He added that 41 per cent of Highland employers have at least one member of staff who are EU migrants, compared to 20 per cent in the UK.

Labour group leader and Inverness Millburn councillor Jimmy Gray agreed that more clarity is needed.

"It’s hugely unfortunate that we find ourselves in this situation," he said.

"Uncertainty is very corrosive and the impact on the Highlands and Islands is much much greater because of the fragile economy."

It was agreed that committee chairman Allan Henderson will write to Prime Minister Theresa May outlining the problems facing the Highlands through Brexit.

Councillors were also told that the interests of the Highlands will be represented through the Highlands and Islands European Partnership (HIEP), which will give evidence to the First Minister’s Standing Council on Europe, a specialist group set up to advise ministers throughout Brexit negotiations.

Malcolm Burr, the chief executive of Western Isles Council, sits on the council and is taking guidance from HIEP.

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