OCEAN Terminal makes a growing contribution to the Inverclyde economy.

Last year the Tele reported on how UK shipping is changing and Inverclyde is benefiting from improved deep-sea connections through Liverpool. 

Looking to the future, Peel Ports expect to see shift in freight travelling into Scotland from road to sea, increasing the number of containers handled in Greenock.

With a nearby international airport, world-class scenery and transport links to Scotland’s major attractions and tourist hotspots, Inverclyde is increasingly a hub for passengers too.

Before Christmas, Scottish Enterprise compared Ocean Terminal favourably with Alaska, a leading cruise ship destination.

Regular readers will know that plans for City Deal investment in Inverclyde include a new quayside terminal building and a new berth for cruise liners to free up port space for container ships.

There is real potential in the Inverclyde economy but, as in the rest of Britain, there is uncertainty too.

Brexit, we are told, means Brexit. But still, almost two years after the decision to leave the European Union was made, local businesses and local workers still do not know what Brexit will actually mean in practice.

When Keir Starmer, Labour’s Shadow Brexit Secretary, came to Greenock to visit Ocean Terminal in the autumn he expressed concern about the impact of continued Brexit uncertainty. Not just what it means for the economy as a whole, but specifically what it means for ports and coastal communities like Inverclyde.

Importers, exporters and the UK’s freight and maritime industries want clarity about the future of the UK’s relationship with the European Union.

Instead, the government is divided, competing Brexit Bills have come forward from the Scottish and UK Governments and in the past few days campaigners have warned that a so-called ‘hard Brexit’ could cost every Scottish worker £116 a year.

The pace of Brexit negotiations has been positively glacial and there is no way of knowing what the shape of a deal, including future customs arrangements, is likely to be.

What is clear though is that after Brexit the UK ends its membership of the European Union – not its relationship with the European Union.

We cannot isolate ourselves entirely from the world’s biggest trading bloc. That is why I am backing calls for tariff-free access to the single market and certainty about the future of the customs union.