BUSINESS leaders have expressed concern about the UK government hardening its line on the customs union and insisting that Britain will definitely leave.

Brexit Secretary David Davis has said the UK's position is "perfectly clear". "There's no doubt about it," he said. "We are leaving the customs union but we are aiming for a good future for Britain."

However, Tracy Black, Scotland director of the Confederation of British Industry, insisted there was still a "business case" for remaining in the trading bloc.

Black said: “The idea behind a customs union is simple: a single set of tariffs for goods imported from outside the EU, enabling tariff free trade within it.

"It brings no obligations over freedom of movement or payment, and removes some of the heaviest trade barriers."

Charandeep Singh, of the Scottish Chambers of Commerce, said businesses should not be faced with additional costs when the UK leaves the customs union.

He said: "We must not reduce the opportunities or increase the cost burden of existing exporters - maintaining close alignment with existing arrangements is critical to ensure our business communities can get on with doing business and creating jobs. “

Andy Willox, the Scottish policy convenor of the Federation of Small Businesses, warned against a "dramatic change in trading conditions".

Willox said: "As the UK Government develops options for future customs arrangements, we’ll be pressing the case for a solution which works for smaller businesses north of the border."

David Lonsdale, director Scottish Retail Consortium added: "Retailers want to see a post-Brexit arrangement between the UK and the EU that works for consumers, so that there’s little difference in terms of the availability of affordable, quality products when Scottish shoppers make purchases or visit stores."

Meanwhile, supporters of the pro-independence Business for Scotland said that leaving the customs union would be a disaster.

Tom Barrie, owner of Currie Solutions, an international haulage firm based in Dumfries, said: “The Government’s decision to rule out a customs union is baffling, indeed, it’s a huge own goal.

“Not only will the exit from the customs union add unnecessary complication to new trade that doesn’t exist today, it will without doubt put a financial burden on every citizen in the whole country."

Niall McLean, director Geo-Rope Ltd, a Highlands-based civil engineering service company, said: “From a business perspective, we rely on European parts and components for our machinery. Right now we are easily able to purchase items from Germany and have them delivered the next day. Any additional hindrance on that ability will harm the business.

“The added cost for extra administration means everybody is going to be paying more - the whole of society, I might add, not just businesses."