Irish economist appointed to Scottish Brexit advisory panel

Professor Frances Ruane will join Scottish and international experts on the panel

Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon has appointed a prominent Irish economist to a panel of experts to advise the government in Edinburgh on the implications of the Brexit referendum result.

Frances Ruane, Honorary Professor of Economics at Trinity College Dublin and a former director of the Economic, Social and Research Institute (ESRI), will join a number of Scottish and international experts on the panel, which is expected to begin its work in the coming weeks.

Ms Sturgeon announced plans for the advisory panel in the aftermath of last week's referendum result, saying it would comprise "a range of experts who can advise me and the Scottish Government on a number of important matters - legal, financial and diplomatic."

Prof Ruane has for the past six years been a member of the Scottish administration's Council of Economic Advisers, which advises ministers on how best to improve Scotland's competitiveness and tackle inequality in the country. The council's members, drawn from academia, business and public sector, include the Nobel prize winners Sir James Mirrlees and Joseph Stiglitz.

"I think what Scotland wants to do is to have its own thought processes about what might happen - in the same way as we in Ireland would have our own discussions, our own strategies, our own ways of thinking about these things," Prof Ruane said.

“It’s very new territory for Scotland, clearly. I think that’s the reason for appointing a wide-ranging panel, so that the issues and possibilities get teased out.”

Ms Sturgeon was in Brussels on Wednesday to make the case for Scotland remaining in the EU, stressing that a majority of Scottish voters wished to remain in the bloc.

"This is very much an initial meeting, a series of meetings in Brussels today, so that people understand that Scotland, unlike other parts of the United Kingdom, does not want to leave the European Union, " Ms Sturgeon said after a meeting with the president of the European Parliament, Martin Schulz. She also discussed Scotland's position with the president of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker.

Ms Sturgeon has raised the prospect of the Scottish parliament trying to block Brexit legislation to keep the entire United Kingdom in the EU, but has also said she believes a new referendum on Scottish independence is now highly likely.

Prof Ruane said she expected the advisory panel to look at the economic implications of Brexit for Scotland and at how Scotland could remain in the EU even if the UK left.

“At a political level, Nicola Sturgeon has made it clear that she wants to find a way for Scotland to stay within the EU. That’s her stated purpose. So one of the issues we will be looking at is what that might mean. But we’ll also be looking at the implications [OF BREXIT]for Scotland, including its trade with the rest of the EU,” Prof Ruane said.