STUART PATRICK

If ever there was a current cliché in business commentary it is that business doesn’t like uncertainty.

Uncertainty, we regularly say, undermines the confidence needed to support business investment. Without that investment our poor productivity remains largely unresolved with damaging consequences for our long term economic growth.

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Well it seems now that the more we say that business doesn’t like uncertainty the more the uncertainty is heaped upon us. Like it or not, following last week’s election result, the people have chosen to deny any one party the scope to decide our future on its own.

If Brexit was not complicated enough, our political leadership must tackle the negotiations with Europe whilst simultaneously reassessing the scale of support in Parliament for a preferred outcome. And the leadership cannot be sure it will be in place throughout those negotiations.

Equally in Scotland the political debate over the constitution moves into another phase as yet to be determined.

In the meantime, as Herald business editor Ian McConnell in these pages has been persistently pointing out, the fundamental impact of the Brexit decision on our economic performance may be looming ever larger in the published statistics.

Business investment trends do not look good. As the Fraser of Allander was emphasising in its March commentary, UK business investment has been falling – a message reinforced by University of Glasgow principal Professor Anton Muscatelli in his recent lecture on Brexit consequences.

I am mentally programmed in my Chamber role to search out the brighter positive signals of opportunity, and there are some.

The pound is evidently helping both our export and tourism business. Scottish Engineering recently reported an uptick in overseas orders and the Scotch Whisky Association has been more bullish about whisky demand around the world. In our own patch Glasgow Airport has just reported its 50th month of consecutive year on year growth in passengers.

In inward investment too there is some cheer for us, as Ernst and Young reported strong figures for Scotland in 2016 with Glasgow having the largest share of that investment. And our major markets in Europe are at last growing again.

Nevertheless, trends in business investment are concerning and I would add one more ask of government at all levels.

Please don’t take your eye off the economic ball, and ask constantly what needs to be done to support business investment right now. We are eager to contribute.

Stuart Patrick is chief executive of Glasgow Chambers of Commerce