While the last month has naturally been dominated by the General Election, with the economy among the key issues, there has been plenty going on elsewhere.

Among the developments I have covered in recent weeks have been two major Scottish corporate deals, but more of that later.

Starting with the run-up to today’s election, what has been simultaneously remarkable and entirely to be expected has been the failure of both the Conservatives and Labour to acknowledge the huge damage done to the UK by the hard Brexit delivered by former prime minister Boris Johnson.

Interestingly, even amid all the hullabaloo created by Nigel Farage’s decision to stand as an MP in Brexit heartland Clacton, the Tories and Labour have felt entirely unable to acknowledge the huge damage done by a Brexit that Mr Farage played no small part in selling to the electorate in 2016.

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Of course, this has been from a political perspective no surprise, given both Labour and the Conservatives have painted themselves into a corner by committing themselves fully to Mr Johnson’s hard Brexit.

Labour has said repeatedly, and very categorically, that it will not take the UK back into the European single market or customs union if it wins the election.

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As noted in one of my columns in The Herald last month, Labour deputy leader Angela Rayner declared her party would never take the UK back into the European Union or single market if it wins power, during an ITV election debate.

The column concluded: “Rejoining the European single market, on any rational basis, would provide a major and much-needed boost for the economy.

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“However, Labour has now said never. And never is a long time. It just gets worse and worse on this issue.

“Sometimes the thought occurs that such wilful damage cannot surely go on for much longer. The fact that Labour and the Conservatives have both embraced the hard Brexit, however, signals otherwise.”

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Scottish Deputy First Minister Kate Forbes, in an exclusive interview with The Herald last month, gave me her opinion of Labour’s position in plain terms.

She said: “Labour’s conspiracy of silence on Brexit is essentially conceding the damage that has been done to the Scottish economy…The Institute for Fiscal Studies has concluded that our suggestion that re-entering the European Union might contribute…£30 billion [a year] to UK coffers is not unreasonably high. In other words, the prize of being in the single market and the prize of burden-free trade with Europe is enormous.”

She added: “We are a small nation – population of five million people – we are reliant on being outward-looking and internationalist. Brexit pulls up the drawbridge, it locks us down basically and it is knocking money off households and also off the economy.”

Ms Forbes also addressed the issue of the greater income tax burden for higher earners in Scotland, relative to those in other parts of the UK.

Asked if she thought there had been too great a divergence in the income tax burden for higher earners in Scotland compared with those elsewhere in the UK as things stand, Ms Forbes replied: “No but I think we keep it under review.

“I was…public finance minister when income tax was first devolved and I recall at the time us making it clear that we would follow the Adam Smith principles of taxation and one of the commitments that we made was to always keep the divergence under review to understand the behavioural impact because I want to be independent but we are devolved and that has implications for how easy it is for taxpayers to shift.”

However, Ms Forbes flagged figures from HM Revenue & Customs showing more people had come to Scotland from the rest of the UK than had moved in the opposite direction, against the backdrop of devolved income tax.

Another of my columns highlighted a reluctance by Douglas Ross, leader of the Scottish Conservatives, to accept his party has been responsible for much of the economic woe throughout the UK, including in Scotland.

In a televised debate staged by the BBC, Mr Ross declared: “We have gone through global events that have been a real strain on our economy, and it’s had a huge impact on people in this room and people across the country.

“If we look at the Covid pandemic and the war in Ukraine, there has been a massive shock to not only our domestic economy but economies across the globe and the Government at a UK level have tried to provide some universal support and some targeted support.”

My column observed: “Mr Ross did not…mention Brexit, the devastating impact of which has been highlighted by many experts as well as business leaders.

“It was a UK Government decision, specifically by the Tories, to have a hard Brexit and leave the European single market and customs union, losing the huge twin benefits of free movement of people between the country and the European Economic Area and frictionless trade with our biggest trading partner.”

Away from the febrile political scene, there has been plenty of excitement on the Scottish economic and business front.

Hearteningly, Scotland’s private sector economy was highlighted as a “standout” performer among the UK nations and regions in May in a survey published by Royal Bank of Scotland last month.

Scottish private sector economic growth accelerated last month to the fastest pace in two years, as expansion in the UK as a whole slowed, the PMI (purchasing managers’ index) survey from Royal Bank of Scotland revealed.

And Scotland was behind only Northern Ireland in terms of the pace of private sector economic expansion.

Sebastian Burnside, chief economist of Royal Bank of Scotland, said: “The month's standout performers were Northern Ireland and Scotland, where rates of expansion went against the trend and accelerated.”

On the corporate deal front, RJ McLeod, one of Scotland’s largest privately owned civil engineering and building contractors with bases in Glasgow and Dingwall, has been bought by English player OCU Group, which was itself acquired by private equity outfit Triton Partners in August 2022.

Asked whether all RJ McLeod employees would transfer to OCU Group, which describes itself as a “leading UK energy transition and utilities infrastructure services company” and is based in Greater Manchester, a spokeswoman for the purchaser said: “There are around 450 individuals working on RJ McLeod projects on any given day across the UK - based out of Glasgow and Dingwall. Following completion of the acquisition, RJ McLeod will continue to operate under the same name and legal entity, with the same staff, same locations, and same work.”

There is much to celebrate when it comes to what RJ McLeod achieved under its former ownership.

Hopefully, its new owner will nurture and grow what has been built, but only time will tell, as noted in another of my columns in The Herald last month.

Also in June, Browns Food Group announced a “substantial multi-million-pound investment” in AK Stoddart, acquiring shares from Colin Wright and Ton Christiaanse.

While Dumfriesshire-based Browns declined to disclose the size of the stake acquired, the deal was characterised as “creating Scotland’s largest privately owned meat business”.