Official Brexit rural impact report includes phrase: ‘we are f*****’

An official report on the impact Brexit will have on rural Scotland includes the quote: “We are f*****,” it has emerged.

A document published by Scottish Rural Action (SRA) featured a side banner on page four carrying the statement.

It was one of a number of banners attributed to participants in a workshop which asked them to imagine what newspaper headlines they might expect to see after the UK leaves the EU.

Amanda Burgauer, SRA chairwoman, said the exercise had been used as an “icebreaker” and that several of the participants used “earthy language” in describing their feelings towards Brexit.

The comments are only explained on the following page, saying they had been put forward by those taking part in the workshop event.

Ms Burgauer said she would flag up the “design and layout” issue with the SRA design team.

The Scottish Government said that although the SRA report was funded through its Brexit Stakeholder Fund, it had no editorial role.

The report will be launched at an SRA event with cabinet secretaries Mike Russell and Richard Lochhead in Elgin on Monday.

Its findings also detailed the potential impact of Brexit on rural Scotland, suggesting that it could lead to “21st century clearances” with a loss of freedom of movement resulting in significant depopulation.

Further concerns raised in the report, taken from conversations with rural communities, also included the risk of EU funding being lost post-Brexit and potential damage to social cohesion.

Ms Burgauer said: “This report is about giving voice to a rural point of view that is rooted in Scotland’s people and places, rather than its rural industries.”

She added: “There is widespread anger and frustration across rural Scotland, but that anger isn’t solely about Brexit.

“It was clear from workshop discussions that Brexit is compounding long standing concerns about rural equity and fragility.

“Brexit was described as the ‘straw that breaks rural Scotland’s back’, with people pointing to structural fragilities across rural communities.

“Participants generally believed that an historic over-reliance on EU funding to ‘prop up’ rural areas makes rural Scotland particularly exposed to future loss of EU support.”

Speaking ahead of the report’s launch, Constitutional Relations Secretary Mike Russell said: “The Scottish Government is committed to ensuring the voices of rural communities are heard and I commend Scottish Rural Action for the work it has done to achieve this.

“The findings in this report are stark. Taking Scotland out of the EU against our will removes us from a market which is eight times bigger than the UK alone.

“Rural communities are deeply worried about the impact of Brexit on their lives. From funding and trade to community life and the workforce, many believe the effects will be nothing short of catastrophic.

“This is sadly yet another example of just how damaging Brexit will be for Scotland.”

A UK Government spokesman said: “Thriving rural areas with strong, sustainable economies and vibrant communities will continue to be a priority for the UK Government when we leave the EU.

“We have committed to establishing a UK Shared Prosperity Fund, which will cover Scotland, to increase productivity in areas where the local economies are furthest behind.

“We have also confirmed that we will maintain the same cash total in funds for farm support until the end of the Parliament.”

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