MORE than three-quarters of Scottish business leaders say the UK Government should “come clean and clarify urgently” the implications of Brexit for devolution, according to a major new study.

Former MPs Roger Mullin and Michelle Thomson, who wrote the report through their independent business research company Momentous Change Ltd, admit they were “surprised” that 76 per cent of businesses – from fisheries to the tech sector – believed that clarity was needed.

READ MORE: Scottish SMEs face huge problems preparing for Brexit – and they need help

They add: “The lack of clarity is harming business engagement, which in turn is contributing weakness in policy development.”

Their research focused on more than 200 decision-makers in Scotland’s business sector and found that most were finding it difficult to ready themselves for Brexit given the uncertainty and complexity surrounding it.

The report makes more than a dozen recommendations for businesses themselves and the Holyrood and Westminster governments, to which The National has had exclusive access.

Mullin and Thomson say businesses should undertake planning and preparations for Brexit, which includes: “Review their exposure to changes in migration; undertake a basic financial ‘stress test’ for their business; and conduct basic scenario planning.”

They should also become aware of the practical implications of leaving the EU.

For its part, the Scottish Government should use the model of the Northern Ireland initiative to give businesses financial support to enable them to seek expert assistance preparing for Brexit.

The report says: “The Scottish Government should commission a review of its skills strategy, with a particular requirement to make recommendations on how the skills strategy can be made more flexible, more business needs driven, more responsive to changing circumstances, and more business user friendly.”

Mullin and Thomson say it should also commission a series of business briefings on Brexit, involving the higher education sector working with business groups to provide short online briefings on related topics as they emerge from the negotiations.

As well as intensifying its engagement with business in relation to Brexit, they urge the Scottish Government to “review innovations aimed at providing new funding streams”, and “ensure it has fully reviewed the implications of Brexit for each of its areas of competence”.

They argue that the UK government should take full account of business needs as the transition arrangements are negotiated, and “make clear its position regarding the implications of Brexit for devolved powers”.

There should also be a joint Westminster-Holyrood examination of inward migration “with a particular focus on ensuring easy access to skills and expertise for Scottish businesses from the remaining member countries of the EU”.

The report recommends: “The UK Government should provide special funds to the devolved administrations for Brexit preparations, and specifically for readying government departments for all anticipated changes. The UK Government should implement an active monitoring process for availability of funds for business, and for SMEs in particular.”

Momentous Change is not anticipating universal approval for the research, although it is anticipated that the business sector will welcome it. Mullin told The National: “I don’t expect a positive response from the UK Government to any of our suggestions, but I do think it is proper to put it on the record, because things like asking for clarity over devolved powers, is something that not just the Scottish Government wants, it’s something business wants. My view is that if we can up the pressure in any way for that, then it’s a good thing, but I wouldn’t expect it to immediately be jumped on as a great idea by the UK Government.

“They’ve effectively got eight months left to complete negotiations that have hardly started on trade, and to do the things business needs to get a bit more comfortable about the direction we’re going in. They’re not demonstrating any clarity in their own thinking ... They don’t seem to have the ability to think through themselves what the position is they want to take.”