Humza Yousaf, Anas Sarwar and Douglas Ross seem to have been almost falling over themselves to talk about the Scottish economy and business recently.

The First Minister appeared at pains to try to portray himself as willing to listen to and support business as he unveiled his Programme for Government last week. Among measures announced was funding for start-ups and scale-ups. He has already, since becoming First Minister in the spring, been promoting his “new deal” for business pledge.

Anas Sarwar, for his part, at the end of last month billed Scottish Labour as “unashamedly a pro-business and pro-growth party” as he insisted he could become the next first minister in 2026.

The Scottish Labour leader set out an economic growth strategy focused on green energy, finance and technology.

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Scottish Conservatives leader Douglas Ross meanwhile made a big deal of launching his party’s “grasping the thistle” report on the economy late last month. Interestingly but not surprisingly, this did not mention what has been a flagship policy of his party for years now: Brexit.

The thoughts of the UK in a Changing Europe (UKICE) think-tank on Brexit, in a report published last week with Full Fact, were well worth reading up on. You get the impression that many in Mr Ross’s party will not, however, be rushing to do so.

The UKICE report formed the basis of my column in The Herald on Wednesday. The think-tank’s report was strikingly different from Mr Ross’s implied message, when pressed by The National on why he had not mentioned the UK’s exit from the European Union in his party’s “grasping the thistle” report, that Brexit is somehow in the past. He seemed to imply this by talking about how, when asked about Brexit, he was instead “looking to the future”.

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Jonathan Portes, a senior fellow of the Economic and Social Research Council-funded UKICE initiative based at King’s College London, said: “Brexit is undoubtedly a drag on growth. It’s hard to see major improvements to the UK’s growth trajectory resulting from relatively minor improvements to the current trading arrangements.

"The next government will have to decide whether that is all that is politically feasible, or whether - at least over the medium term - the potential economic benefits of a more ambitious renegotiation of the UK’s economic relationship with the EU outweigh the obvious political risks.”

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UKICE director Anand Menon noted Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer had ruled out a “fundamental reassessment of the relationship in the form of a bid to join either the customs union or single market, let alone reapply to the EU”.

He observed “there is little appetite on the part of the current UK Government to build on the relationship negotiated by Boris Johnson”.

And Mr Menon declared: “Even were Labour to be successful in reaching, for instance, a veterinary agreement with the EU, these kinds of measure will make little difference to the overall economic impact of Brexit. Consequently, that impact will continue to be felt, exacerbating the problems in generating growth.”

Both the Conservatives and Labour in Scotland would seem likely to face continuing challenges over the pro-Brexit stances of Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Sir Keir, who would do well to read the UKICE report and the myriad other pieces of research showing the impact on the UK of leaving the EU.

In the meantime, Mr Yousaf is certainly not without his troubles when it comes to business, even if his opposition to Brexit makes perfect sense from an economic perspective and he has other positives on which to draw such as Scotland’s very strong inward investment track record.

A survey published on August 30 by the Fraser of Allander Institute, in conjunction with law firm Addleshaw Goddard, showed only 9% of firms agreed or strongly agreed that the Scottish Government understands the business environment in Scotland, compared with 64% of businesses that disagreed or strongly disagreed.

This highlights the headwinds Mr Yousaf faces as he attempts to persuade businesses he is giving them a “new deal”. Perceptions can develop a life of their own, even if they are sometimes a bit detached from reality and can become entrenched.

All the while, as party leaders in Scotland attempt to promote themselves as good for business and the economy, it is important not to become too parochial. We must bear in mind that the main levers when it comes to the overall state of the economy in Scotland remain at Westminster, and the extent of the cacophony around devolved policies will not change that.

You get the impression that devolution in Scotland, and the warring within Scotland’s political goldfish bowl, is preventing some people at least from recognising that much of the blame for the troubles of businesses and households north of the Border lies firmly with Westminster.

The Conservatives’ track record since 2010 is abysmal and would suggest they do not understand much at all about the business environment or the economy.