MANY of the problems faced by Scottish businesses and households are the fault of Westminster decisions, a top business journalist has said.

Writing in The Herald, Ian McConnell said the Scottish Government faced a disproportionate amount of the blame for issues caused by policies decided in London, such as the terms of Brexit.

He highlighted a recent report by the Brexit-focused think tank UK in a Changing Europe, which highlighted the impact of leaving the EU on the UK economy.

Jonathan Portes, a senior fellow of the Economic and Social Research Council-funded UKICE initiative based at King’s College London, said: “Brexit is undoubtedly a drag on growth. It’s hard to see major improvements to the UK’s growth trajectory resulting from relatively minor improvements to the current trading arrangements.

"The next government will have to decide whether that is all that is politically feasible, or whether - at least over the medium term - the potential economic benefits of a more ambitious renegotiation of the UK’s economic relationship with the EU outweigh the obvious political risks.”

Douglas Ross (below), McConnell noted, had failed to mention Brexit when outlining the Scottish Conservatives’ vision for the economy.

The National:

He wrote: “The think-tank’s report was strikingly different from Mr Ross’s implied message, when pressed by The National on why he had not mentioned the UK’s exit from the European Union in his party’s ‘grasping the thistle’ report, that Brexit is somehow in the past.

“He seemed to imply this by talking about how, when asked about Brexit, he was instead ‘looking to the future’.”

McConnell went on to note the difficulties faced by First Minister Humza Yousaf in winning business over to the SNP once again, noting a recent poll which found just 9% of Scottish firms felt the Government understood their needs.

McConnell added: “This highlights the headwinds Mr Yousaf faces as he attempts to persuade businesses he is giving them a ‘new deal’.

“Perceptions can develop a life of their own, even if they are sometimes a bit detached from reality and can become entrenched.

“All the while, as party leaders in Scotland attempt to promote themselves as good for business and the economy, it is important not to become too parochial.

“We must bear in mind that the main levers when it comes to the overall state of the economy in Scotland remain at Westminster, and the extent of the cacophony around devolved policies will not change that.

“You get the impression that devolution in Scotland, and the warring within Scotland’s political goldfish bowl, is preventing some people at least from recognising that much of the blame for the troubles of businesses and households north of the Border lies firmly with Westminster.

“The Conservatives’ track record since 2010 is abysmal and would suggest they do not understand much at all about the business environment or the economy.”