A CONSERVATIVE member of the House of Lords and boss of well-known retailer Next has reached the conclusion that East Lothian recognised six years ago: Brexit doesn’t work.

Lord Wolfson complains about “people queuing up to come to this country to pick crops that are rotting in fields, to work in warehouses, and we’re not letting them in”.

A high-profile supporter of Brexit, he says: “This is definitely not the Brexit I wanted... or many of the people who voted Brexit wanted”.

Unfortunately for him and other businesses, this is exactly the hard Brexit that Boris Johnson negotiated and MPs and Lords voted for. Scotland overwhelmingly rejected it in the referendum, but we’re impacted by Westminster’s Brexit obsessions.

Businesses, entrepreneurs, hospitals and care homes, retail outlets, warehouses and hospitality face crises. Lord Wolfson says “control immigration where it’s damaging to society, let people in who can contribute,” perpetuating the dangerous lie that immigration is “damaging” and stoking up hostility towards migrants and asylum seekers.

The OECD (Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development) publishes objective migration statistics: for example, migrants accounted for 70 per cent of the increase in the workforce in Europe over the last 10 years.

Only this week, former Tory Environment secretary George Eustice has savaged the UK’s free trade deal with Australia and criticised Liz Truss’s role in negotiating it.

Mr Eustice, who helped secure the agreement, told a Commons debate that it was “not actually a very good deal for the UK”.

It was the first post-Brexit deal negotiated from scratch. But Mr Eustice argued it gave away “too much” after then trade secretary Ms Truss “shattered” the UK’s negotiation.

Brexit denies economic reality. To address the Brexit harm to East Lothian, these are some steps I’ve been taking:

  • Meeting regularly with farmers to discuss issues around recruitment and market access, and focusing on farmers and growers and a local ‘farm to fork’ strategy;
  • Setting up a local business forum to listen to businesses about energy costs, recruitment issues, cost of business and market access.

In Scotland, both the Labour and Conservative parties want to make Brexit work – it doesn’t and it won’t. Our businesses are suffering because of this.