Scottish jobs after Brexit

14 October 2016
What was claimed

If the UK leaves the EU single market and relies only on its membership of the World Trade Organisation, there would be 80,000 jobs lost in Scotland.

Our verdict

The numbers aren’t certain, but a forecast for the Scottish government suggests that in 10 years there would be 80,000 fewer jobs in Scotland if the UK leaves the single market, compared to the number there would be if it stays in the EU. The report expects every scenario outside the EU to mean fewer jobs.

“But the fact is, if it is a hard Brexit, if we go out with the single market with no provisions in place for the trade, then we will lose jobs... However, the Scottish Parliament had a forecast produced that out with the single market, there would be 80,000 jobs lost in Scotland.”

Alex Salmond, 13 October 2016

Most economists agree that leaving the EU’s single market would see fewer jobs created and some lost. But there’s no definitive answer for how many.

One set of forecasts for the Scottish parliament estimated that after ten years, there would be 80,000 fewer jobs in Scotland if the UK left the single market than if it remained in the EU. This assumes that the UK relies only on its membership of the World Trade Organisation to trade and doesn’t strike any new deals.

But watch out. The figure for 80,000 fewer people in employment doesn’t tell us how many individual people are expected to lose their jobs.

It’s a comparison between the number of jobs the report expects in two different worlds, ten years in the future. In one imagined world, the UK stays in the EU; in another possible world, the UK leaves the single market and doesn’t agree any trade deals.

The report expects that every Brexit scenario would mean fewer jobs than EU membership.

In the report’s most optimistic scenario, the UK joins the European Economic Area and only 30,000 fewer jobs exist. Again, the implication is that 30,000 fewer jobs would exist than would have done otherwise, not that 30,000 people would lose their jobs because of Brexit.

Of course, this is only a forecast. You can’t factcheck the future.



This article was updated shortly after it was published to reflect a response from the Fraser of Allander Institute.

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