It is a positive outcome for Orkney that it will share in the combined £100 million pledged by the Scottish and UK Governments for the Islands Growth Deal.
A range of areas, including tourism, infrastructure, innovation, energy transition and skills, will be targeted with the £50 million from the Scottish Government, which will be invested over 10 years and will support local sustainable economic recovery and growth.
The UK Government is also investing £50 million in the deal, which also benefits Shetland and the Outer Hebrides although coming at a slower pace, being spread over 15 years.
But as Boris Johnson flew into Orkney last Thursday to announce his government’s share of the deal to a selected audience, the financial impact of Brexit on the islands was becoming clear.
I have mentioned in this column in the past how figures showed Orkney would be one of the worst affected areas as we head towards a disastrous Brexit. It is now clear that, far from trumpeting the ‘might’ of the UK, Boris Johnson should instead have been apologising during his visit to the islands, after a new report found that Orkney has already been left £84.6 million worse off as a result of Brexit.
The new analysis, published from experts at Warwick University, found that nationally Scotland is now £3.9 billion worse off thanks to Brexit and has already lost £736 per head of population.
Separately, Scottish Government analysis has revealed that ending the transition period in 2020 could cut £3billion from the Scottish economy in just two years – on top of the impact of coronavirus.
This is a horrendous prospect, and far from grinning away to himself as he posed for cameras with a crab in each hand, the PM should have been taking time to explain to Orkney’s residents why he thinks they should put up with suffering this crushing financial blow.
This new analysis makes clear that any form of Brexit will inflict major harm on Scotland’s economy.
Boris Johnson should take stock, knowing that every single Orkney resident that he sped past during his three hours or so on the Orkney Mainland has already been left £3813.17 worse off thanks to his recklessness.
Little wonder that a significant number of folk made their feelings known to him in Kirkwall, Stromness and Finstown as he was chauffeured past them in his blacked-out Range Rover.
These Tory Brexiteers at Westminster want to drag Scotland out of the EU against our will. In the middle of a global pandemic that’s the last thing our economy needs.
Folk in Orkney didn’t vote for this Tory government and they certainly didn’t vote for Brexit – with only 36.84% of voters in the islands backing Leave in 2016 – but Boris Johnson simply doesn’t care.
With Westminster hell-bent on taking a wrecking ball to our economy, it’s clearer than ever that the only way to protect Scotland’s interests and our place in Europe is to become an independent country.
Stay strong folks.
This is a regular column by Maree Todd, SNP MSP. All list MSPs in the Highlands and Islands have been offered the same space in The Orkney News to share their personal views.