Scottish fishing industry victims of 'massive sellout' by the Tories, says Nicola Sturgeon

Michael Russell asks if Ruth Davidson should resign following anger from fishing industry over broken Tory promises

THE LATEST DRAFT AGREEMENT on Brexit between the UK and the European Union amounts to a “massive sellout of the Scottish fishing industry by the Tories,” First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said.

Following the announcement that the UK Government and the EU have agreed upon a “large part of the agreement” that will eventually lead to Brexit, regarding what the UK Government refers to as the “implementation period”, it is now expected that powers over fishing quotas will remain under the control of the EU.

Sturgeon condemned the move on Twitter, as well as highlighting the apparent confirmation of early warnings from the Scottish Government regarding such an eventuality, saying: "This is shaping up to be a massive sellout of the Scottish fishing industry by the Tories. The promises that were made to them during #EUref and since are already being broken - as many of us warned they would be."

Further anger at the deal came from Bertie Armstrong, chief executive of the Scottish Fishermen's Federation, who said the agreement fell "far short of an acceptable deal".

Armstrong commented: "We will leave the EU and leave the CFP, but hand back sovereignty over our seas a few seconds later. Our fishing communities' fortunes will still be subject to the whim and largesse of the EU for another two years.

"Put simply, we do not trust them to look after us. So we issue this warning to the EU: Be careful what you do or the consequences later will be severe.

"To our politicians we say this: Some have tried to secure a better deal but our governments have let us down.

"We issue this warning to the EU: Be careful what you do or the consequences later will be severe.” Scottish Fishermen’s Federation chief executive Bertie Armstrong

"As a consequence, we expect a written, cast-iron guarantee that after the implementation period, sovereignty will mean sovereignty and we will not enter into any deal which gives any other nation or the EU continued rights of access or quota other than those negotiated as part of the annual Coastal States negotiations."

Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson hastened to add on 19 March that she would not support a Brexit deal which did not deliver full control over issues such as vessel access and fish stocks. However, it remains unclear if Scottish Conservative MPs will join her in such opposition.

Davidson was quoted by the Reuters news agency as saying: “That we now have to wait until 2020 to assume full control is an undoubted disappointment. Having spoken to fishing leaders today, I know they are deeply frustrated with this outcome.

“I should make it clear today that I will not support a deal as we leave the EU which, over the long-term, fails to deliver that full control over fish stocks and vessel access.”

Michael Russell, Scottish Government minister for UK negotiations on Scotland’s place in Europe, pointed out on Twitter that this latest development was precisely what Conservatives such as Davidson and Michael Gove had promised would not transpire, and speculated on whether this would lead to high-profile Tory resignations.

Russell tweeted: “Given that Gove & Davidson categorically promised something that has not been delivered – and that NE Tory MSPs went about guaranteeing it to the fishing industry – presumably their resignations from either their party and/or their Parliaments are imminent?”

Earlier this month, the UK Government informed Scottish and Welsh ministers that it was likely they would be barred from controlling policy over fishing quotas, one of the many areas of control reserved to Westminster which Russell said confirmed the UK Government’s plans for a “power grab” of returning EU powers.

Picture courtesy of Trevor Coultart

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