The White Queen in the classic children’s novel, Through the Looking Glass, was proud of her ability to believe six impossible things before breakfast – a skill she had practiced half an hour a day since childhood.

When considering recent events in the news, I wonder if we all could benefit from the ability to believe various and impossible things, if only to lighten the mood a bit.

For example, it would be wonderful to believe that a Brexit deal could be agreed that squares all the circles - frictionless trade with European Union countries, the ability to negotiate trade deals elsewhere, a solution to the backstop, plus an immigration policy that serves the needs of the economy, the expectations of the populace and ensures that all who live here have the skills they need to succeed. And that it could be all done and dusted by 22 May. That’s only five things that, when all put together, have so far been impossible to achieve.

To some, it might also seem impossible that the Scottish economy could be suffering from the impact of Brexit and the miasma of uncertainty it has caused, yet still look quite healthy in some areas. Particularly employment, which is at a near historic high while unemployment is at a record low, according to the most recent figures from the Office for National Statistics. Likewise, GDP growth has continued albeit on a modest level. So, what gives?

The most recent Quarterly Economic Indicator survey produced by the Scottish Chambers of Commerce has confirmed these trends. It has highlighted where companies in Scotland have been proving resilient while also laying bare the challenges they face.

Undeniably, the prospect of a no-deal Brexit took a toll on business confidence in Scotland in the first quarter of 2019. And it continues to do so despite the extension of negotiations to October, which helped us avoid falling out of the EU in a disorderly manner but has also served to continue the pain of uncertainty.

But nor is Brexit the only challenge. Businesses reported pressures such as rising costs due to currency weakness and higher wages. Every sector in the survey faced rising wage pressures with construction and retail reporting the biggest wage increases in over a dozen years.

Scottish employers are counting the cost of the tightened labour markets identified by the ONS, as well as rises in pension contributions, the apprenticeship levy and National Minimum Wage.

As a result of these factors, firms are even more reluctant to make investment decisions now. This is an unwelcome sign given the key role that investment plays in boosting productivity, and in turn improving long-term economic prosperity.

But rather than impossible things, let’s focus on what is possible. If the recent uncertainty that has been hanging over businesses can be cleared, the economy is set to benefit from a spike in pent up investment.

Likewise, a stable domestic policy environment which prioritises skills development and a competitive non-domestic rates package would provide a clear signal of confidence to the private sector and unlock investment.

Liz Cameron is chief executive of Scottish Chambers of Commerce.