US ambassador warns over 'growing gulf' between communities


There is something "uneasy going on" with politics on both sides of the Atlantic, the US ambassador to the UK has said.

Matthew Barzun said too many people are talking at each other rather than to each other creating a "gulf" between communities.

In the wake of the hotly disputed EU referendum campaign and during the US Presidential race, Mr Barzun told politicians and business leaders at the CBI Scotland dinner in Glasgow that people need to work together.

The ambassador said: "Let's look at politics at home, on both sides of the aisle, both sides of the UK, and something uneasy is going on.

"There is something that I think we're feeling when some of these thing we have relied on, like international rules-based order and alliances and other things, now people are questioning the validity of experts in fields and questioning the motives of leaders in the public sector and the private sector.

"People seem to be talking past each other and talking at each other. There seems to be a gulf that's growing."

He added: "What is easy is building walls. Anyone can build a wall, building bridges is harder and building bridges requires you to understand the other, listen to the other and to explore the other's shore. That's simple but it's hard."

During the EU referendum campaign the CBI had warned of "negative echoes" lasting many years if the UK voted to leave.

Speaking at the Scotland annual dinner, director general Carolyn Fairbairn said productivity growth should now be the single most important aim for business and government over the next five years.

 Other speakers included Lloyds chief executive of commercial banking Andrew Bester who said "we are facing uncertain times".

"Yes, this is uncharted territory," he said.

"But we are committed to supporting Scottish firms - your start-ups, your growing businesses, your exporters, the country's crucial economic sectors. And in everything from our strategy, through to our products, services and people, we are set up to help our clients succeed."