SCOTTISH business was described as taking a stoic position on Indyref2 when plans were first formally announced.

This was five years ago when companies were waiting to find out how Brexit might look. It was also pre Boris Johnson as Prime Minister.

Now we know that leaving the European Union is cited as a key factor in the reduction of business export relationships with Europe, myriad supply chain difficulties and the labour crisis.

The Confederation of British Industry in Scotland said in 2017 that “what’s important is that the needs of Scotland – and the other devolved nations – are heard and understood in the discussions on the UK’s future relationship with Europe”.

Brexit is still up in the air as the UK Government mulls ripping up its Northern Ireland Protocol, but we get the gist of how it is going.

The union-supporting Scottish Business UK, whose chief executive is former Conservative MEP Struan Stevenson, also a three-time Scottish Parliament candidate, has opined that “the only route-map ministers should be setting out during the present economic climate is one that helps companies cope with real concerns like the cost of living crisis, rising inflation, spiralling energy costs ... ”

Ahead of First Minister Nicola Sturgeon’s announcement this week on a 2023 referendum, the Scottish Government put forward the first in a series of papers for consideration.

It shows how GDP per head of population in the UK in 2020 was lower than all its comparator countries including Ireland, Switzerland, Norway, Denmark, the Netherlands, Iceland, Sweden, Austria, Belgium and Finland.

HeraldScotland: Analysis: Scottish Government.Analysis: Scottish Government.

The document states: “What is clear from the evidence presented in this paper is that dependency on decision-making by UK governments has led to outcomes that fail to match Scotland’s potential, and with the damage of Brexit, will in fact mean Scotland finding it ever harder to achieve that potential both in the short and long terms.

“Countries of a similar size are achieving better outcomes than Scotland is able to achieve as part of the UK.”

HeraldScotland: First Minister announces Indyref2 plan for 2023. Picture: Lesley Martin/PA WireFirst Minister announces Indyref2 plan for 2023. Picture: Lesley Martin/PA Wire

Ms Sturgeon said: “Why are neighbouring independent countries of Scotland’s size wealthier, happier and fairer than the UK?

“Why do they, and indeed other countries in north-west Europe regardless of size, frequently out-perform the UK across a range of key measures that determine well-being?

“And, fundamentally, if these countries can be successful, why not an independent Scotland, given the abundance of talent, resources and natural advantages we possess?”

While it may offer short-term uncertainty, could this be a suitable juncture for a reasoned debate on the options for the longer term?

In an exclusive interview with business editor Ian McConnell this week, Andrew Malcolm talks about the family business that has evolved dramatically since it was founded as a coal-selling business by his grandfather, Walter Hattrick Malcolm, in Johnstone 100 years ago, and carried on by his late father, Donald, of whom he said: “He was my mentor, my friend, everything.”

Aso this week, in a special series, deputy business editor Scott Wright shone the spotlight on business rates as the hospitality industry warns that operators face a “cliff edge” as relief ends.