A LEADING think-tank has warned of “serious implications” for the economy north of the Border if Brexit makes migration to Scotland more difficult or less attractive.

Graeme Roy, director of the University of Strathclyde’s Fraser of Allander Institute, said: “Much of the Brexit debate has focussed upon the potential dislocation of trade patterns. But arguably an even greater challenge, particularly over the longer term, are the implications for Scotland’s population.

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“Our analysis shows that a significant amount of the long-term growth gap between Scotland and the rest of the UK can be explained by differences in population growth.”

He warned: “Should Brexit make migration to Scotland more difficult, or less attractive, then this could have serious implications for key sectors and the economy at large.”

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Fraser of Allander notes in its latest economic commentary that, while Scotland’s gross domestic product growth was the fastest in two years in the first quarter, the risks to the nation’s expansion prospects have not gone away.

Figures published last week by the Scottish Government showed the economy north of the Border grew by 0.5 per cent in the first quarter – matching the UK-wide rate of expansion.

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In the commentary, supported by accountancy firm Deloitte, Fraser of Allander highlights the extent to which the recent pick-up in growth is likely to have stemmed from firms implementing “no-deal contingency plans”.

The think-tank says that underlying Scottish growth remains fragile.

Mr Roy said: “Three years on from the Brexit referendum, we still have little clarity over the timing or format of the UK’s departure from the EU. Given the scale of the challenges that a no-deal Brexit might bring, it is no surprise that businesses are taking matters into their own hands by rolling out contingency plans.”