Scotland politics

Call for Scots to help shape UK industry

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Image caption UK government ministers have highlighted the "huge contribution" Scotland makes to the UK economy

The UK government has called on Scottish businesses and workers to help shape a modern industrial strategy to drive growth across the country.

The proposals outlined by Prime Minister Theresa May are aimed at boosting the UK economy after Brexit.

They aim to close the productivity and wealth gap between different parts of the UK.

They also intend to make the UK one of the most competitive places in the world to start and grow a business.

The strategy outlines 10 key pillars of focus, including the development of skills, upgrading infrastructure, delivering affordable energy and supporting businesses to start and grow.

Business leaders have broadly welcomed the plans, which Mrs May said would see the government "stepping up to a new, active role".

A 12-week consultation will be held on the proposals, with the UK government calling for industries, businesses, groups and workers from across Scotland to take part.

UK government ministers Jesse Norman and Andrew Dunlop visited Tennent's Brewery and its training academy in Glasgow and the University of Glasgow's science department on Monday to explain how they believe strategy will benefit the country.

'Economic strengths'

Mr Norman, the government's energy and industry minister, said: "Scotland makes a huge contribution to the UK's economy, cementing it as the fifth largest worldwide.

"The government's new industrial strategy is designed to build on Scotland's economic strengths within the UK as a whole, creating more opportunities, prosperity and jobs.

"We invite people and businesses across Scotland to have their say in shaping it, so that growth and well-being can be more widely spread in an economy that works for all."

Scottish businesses and workers who wish to give feedback on the strategy proposal can visit GOV.UK to answer a series of questions giving their views on the strategy.

Following the consultation period, the UK government will consider responses before publishing a white paper on the strategy later this year.

The Scottish government's economy secretary, Keith Brown, said there had been a "disappointing lack of engagement" from the UK government during the development of the proposals, which he said included many devolved policy areas.

He added: "The UK has been lacking a strategic approach to industrial policy for many years and has suffered as a result.

"The need to address that gap is now even more urgent given the huge threat posed by the UK government's proposed hard Brexit, outside of the world's biggest single market, which jeopardises key areas such as university research and attracting talent, which are so vital to our economic future."

Analysis by Douglas Fraser, BBC Scotland economy editor

Two Whitehall ministers are in Scotland to emphasise that, although much of this is devolved, it still applies north of the border.

Whitehall does not control the skills agenda or infrastructure priorities in Scotland.

What it can do is influence investment through the tax system. It already does so with targeted tax breaks for the film industry and digital games, and it has done so for 40 years of North Sea oil and gas.

Energy looks like being a key sector for Scotland in this industrial policy - both hydrocarbons and renewable. And already, there's a tension between the strategic role of investing in green power and the government preference for pulling back on the cross-subsidies that help its development.

The ministers' visits emphasise skills in the hospitality sector (which has depended on EU migrant workers' skills), Scotland's university science base (likewise), and a highly successful leather exporting business in Renfrewshire.

The new economy? Hardly. Trading in leather goes a long way back, somewhere close to the stone age.

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