An Angus-based entrepreneur has called on business people in Scotland to “think outside the box” for solutions to issues relating to labour and trade as a result of leaving the European Union.
Potato and vegetable farmer Andrew Stirling said the resolve of Scottish people would see the country through the Brexit process.
Mr Stirling, along with his wife Anita and four children, runs Stirling Potatoes Limited and Stirfresh from Upper Dysart outside Montrose.
Their businesses employ over 60 people packing and processing potatoes and vegetables. They supply schools, NHS, care homes, wholesalers, Aldi and Lidl as well as ready meal companies.
Mr Stirling said: “I have the option that Scotland will survive and we will deal with Brexit but I acknowledge it may be difficult for some people over a period of time.
“If fewer people come to work from Europe, then surely we can bring people in from our Commonwealth? There’s a solution there.
“If people do import – we can trade with countries outside Europe.
“It just means that for some people there will be a transitional period.”
Mr Stirling said that despite reports of some farming operations being badly affected by fewer seasonal workers coming from Europe, his business had been largely unaffected by Brexit so far other than the drop in the value of the pound “hadn’t helped”.
He said he believed Scottish farms could produce enough food to fill any “shortfall” after Brexit
“We may move back to seasonal periods and not some of the produce that comes from glass houses in Europe,” he said.
“I spoke to a wholesaler from Edinburgh recently whose father used to talk about the high quality of fruit and veg from South Africa. That stopped with joining Europe. Boats used to come from South Africa, South America… it’s a big world out there.”
Mr Stirling is one of the panellists of The Courier’s Business Briefing next month which marks 50 days to Brexit.
He joins Sir John Curtice, professor of politics at the University of Strathclyde, Caroline Millar of Go Rural for Business and Ian Collins, the Bank of Scotland’s area director for Tayside and Central Scotland, on the panel.
He added: “I think the Scottish resolve is very strong and we will deal with it.
“Is it not a fact of life that one person loses as another gains? The one that’s going to lose is perhaps the person who’s most concerned.
“We maybe need to think out of the box a bit and think what other opportunities are there, we need to explore.
“Some people out there don’t like change so don’t vote for change. When it comes along they get scared.”
The Courier Business Briefing, in association with Fairways, will take place at Dundee’s Apex City Quay Hotel on February 7 from 7.30am to 9.30am.
Tickets, priced £25 plus VAT, include a buffet breakfast. For further information, visit thecourierbriefings.co.uk