Scottish business groups have come together to make a unified call for political leadership to help businesses respond to the challenges of Brexit.

After attending the First Minister’s EU Business Summit at Bute House in Edinburgh, they issued a joint statement on behalf of the Scottish Chambers of Commerce head by Liz Cameron, Federation of Small Businesses, Scottish Financial Enterprise, Scottish Council for Development & Industry, Confederation of British Industry and Institute of Directors.

It said the six organisations recognised “the leadership Scottish businesses are showing” and urged them to continue to collaborate and identify the opportunities and challenges ahead. It also called on the Scottish and UK governments to “demonstrate leadership and maintain joint working relationships”.

It went on: “Collectively, we represent the broadest spectrum of businesses including private sector firms, public sector and the social economy. Our members hold diverse views on the European Union but the need to drive prosperity - by preserving jobs, attracting investment and driving economic growth for Scotland - is what brings us together.”

It applauded firms’ immediate response in maintaining 'business as usual' when trading with EU markets, and in exploring the possible opportunities that lie ahead, both in European markets and globally

“We underline our belief that Scotland is a great place to do business and that we are 'open for business.' Our organisations will continue to use our resources and connections to promote this message.”

The joint statement said there was “unanimous agreement that we need strong leadership and clarity of the timeframe for next steps from both governments, in order to create more stability and to maintain business, consumer and investor confidence”

It went on: “We recommend that both governments establish areas of common interest, making sure positive outcomes are achieved. We are committed to working in collaboration with (both) governments to secure the best deal for Scottish businesses in the negotiations that lie ahead.”

The business groups say five key business issues should be prioritised in the negotiations: access to EU markets, currently worth over £11 billion a year to Scottish businesses; access to a talented, skilled workforce, including the clear protection of EU nationals currently studying, living and working in Scotland; support for non-UK EU nationals who run businesses in Scotland; following through on planned infrastructure projects like airport expansion and digital broadband rollout; and maintaining the competitive edge of Scottish business by reviewing ‘domestic’ areas of control including supportive taxation rates for businesses.

They conclude: “It is our belief that by delivering on these priorities, we will boost business confidence, and send the signal globally, that Scotland continues to be an attractive destination to start, build and grow a business.”

In a separate assessment of Brexit issues for UK businesses, the Institute of Directors says it is most likely the UK will retain access to the single market for goods with some concessions. But it warns that the real concern is the prospects for services, a significant part of the economy.

The report says businesses must “begin conversations with EU clients and supply chain now”, as 83per cent of IoD members have some link with Europe.

It says the UK is unlikely to be able to deal with new trade partners whilst re-negotiating with the EU and amending existing third-party arrangements. On the key issue of passporting for financial services it says: “Negotiating this will be difficult as remaining EU members will see this as an opportunity to shift business to European cities, unless the UK opts for the potentially politically-difficult EEA model.”

Simon Walker, IoD director general, said: “We now need politicians to respond coherently to provide stability as we work out our future path. We must not lose faith in the ability of British businesses to overcome these challenges.

“The IoD is resolutely positive about the opportunities that globalisation brings. We were promised an open and outward looking country after Brexit. Whoever ends up in charge must deliver on that pledge – a Britain that continues to play an outsized, global role in a world that is coming together, not moving apart.”