A report published by the Scottish Government this week has painted a bleak picture for Orkney as one of the areas worst hit by Brexit.
The Local Level Brexit Vulnerabilities in Scotland Report found that rural areas, especially those in Orkney have significant populations at risk from the fallout of leaving the EU – with or without a trade deal.
Check out the: Brexit Vulnerability Index Map
The analysis considers access to services, working age population, income deprivation, workers in Brexit-sensitive industries, EU worker migration and how many EU payments are received.
A report by the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS), also published this week, found the UK is already £60 billion worse off as a result of Brexit before we have even left the EU – with the UK economy 2.5-3% smaller than it otherwise would have been.
Commenting on the report, local MSP Maree Todd,SNP, said:
“We always knew that Brexit would be damaging to Scotland but this new analysis really hits home the devastating impact that Brexit will have here in The Highlands & Islands
“Families across Orkney will feel the impact of Brexit, with up to 34% of the local population most vulnerable to the potential economic shock.
“Scotland never voted for Brexit and certainly not for the reckless extreme version now pursued by the UK government. It’s essential that we stop Brexit and go back to the people.”
Orkney voted 62.3% Remain (7,189 votes) 36.8% Leave (4,193 votes)in the EU Referendum in 2016
Although the Scottish Parliament passed the Continuity Bill which would have prevented the worse effects of Brexit by allowing a ‘bridging’ time after leaving, this legislation was successfully challenged by the UK Government reasserting its control over the Scottish Parliament and was never enacted. Dark Day for Devolution
Here are the Key Findings of the Report from RESAS (Rural & Environment Science & Analytical Services) 9th October 2019
• The risks presented by Brexit are anticipated to have significant social and economic consequences for all areas of Scotland.
• Many of the areas most vulnerable to Brexit are in rural locations, in particular on the Scottish islands. Around half of communities in Shetland Islands, Na hEileanan Siar, Argyle & Bute and Dumfries and Galloway are amongst the most vulnerable communities in Scotland (20% most vulnerable datazones).
• On Na h-Eileanan Siar there are nearly 14,000 people in the most vulnerable datazones in Scotland. Likewise, on the Shetland Islands there are more than 11,000 people in the most vulnerable datazones.
• A smaller proportion of areas within cities and large urban areas are found to be in the most vulnerable 20% of datazones in Scotland. However, because the urban population is substantially larger than the rural one, there are still high numbers of people in urban and suburban areas who live in such locations. For example, there are 186,000 people in Glasgow alone and nearly 170,000 people in Fife, North and South Lanarkshire and Edinburgh combined who are living within the most vulnerable datazones in Scotland.
The 34% of the population of Orkney who will be most adversely affected by the impact of leaving the EU, especially if it is a sudden No Deal departure, equates to 8,835 people.
For our fellow islanders in Shetland at 50% of the population that is 11,376 people and for Na h-Eileanan Siar at 53% of the population or 13,961 people.
Sectors in the islands which will be hardest hit by the UK leaving the EU will be fishing and agriculture. Across the whole of Scotland there will be different levels of impact as organisations such as the University/Research Sectors and NHS Scotland which relies on medical staff from EU nations, will also be affected.
Reporter: Fiona Grahame