The Tory Brexit sell-out of Scotland’s fishing

Throughout the Brexit process, Westminster Tory governments have set up Scotland’s fishing communities as a bargaining chip in their Brexit negotiations.

Now, it’s become clearer than ever that Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal is a complete sell-out.

The Brexit fishing sell-out

From the start, the UK government has set up Scotland’s fisheries as a bargaining chip in the Brexit negotiations – proving that just like Edward Heath and Margaret Thatcher, Boris Johnson’s Tories see our fishing communities as simply “expendable”.

The Scottish Tories said they would vote against any Brexit deal that didn’t restore “complete control and full sovereignty” of Scotland’s waters.

It’s now beyond doubt that Brexit doesn’t even come close to delivering that.

New Scottish Government analysis reveals that far from having, as promised, substantial increased opportunities in the future’, the Scottish fishing industry will have access to fewer valuable fish stocks (such as cod, whiting and haddock) than under the CFP arrangements – even at the end of the five and half year phase-in period.

Despite all that, the Scottish Tories are now enthusiastically backing the Brexit deal with a fishing arrangement that they themselves, in 2018, called a “betrayal of Scotland”.

Yet again, Douglas Ross and his MPs have broken their promises to Scotland’s fishing communities, only to side with Boris Johnson at any cost.

Scottish seafood exporters “caught in a net of bureaucracy”

The Scottish seafood industry has hit out at the Tory Brexit chaos, which has “unleashed layer upon layer of administrative problems, resulting in queues, border refusals and utter confusion“.

Contrary to the Brexiteers’ promises of less red tape and bureaucracy, this extreme Tory Brexit is causing a pile-up of extra bureaucracy for exporters – which is causing tonnes of perishable goods ending up wasted, and millions of pounds lost as a result.

Indeed, Seafood Scotland has warned that “in a very short time, we could see the destruction of a centuries-old market which contributes significantly to the Scottish economy.” This was definitely not on the side of a Brexit bus.

“Full control” of Scottish waters: broken Tory promise

The Scottish Tories and the UK government promised the UK and Scotland would have “full control” over its waters after Brexit.

Douglas Ross said: “any final deal that does not deliver, unequivocally, full control over fish stocks and vessel access will not have my support.”

However, the Brexit deal states that EU fishing boats will have access to Scottish waters for at least five and a half years, and the new Scottish Government analysis reveals this period may prove difficult to avoid becoming permanent.

There is no full control – nothing like it.

Annual negotiations on access: broken Tory promise

Brexiteers have promised that getting ‘our own seat at the table’ in annual negotiations would result in gains for our fishing interests.

Scottish Tory MPs such as Alister Jack and Douglas Ross promised that access and shares of fish caught in UK waters would be negotiated on an annual basis. Anything else, they said, would mean leaving the Common Fisheries Policy “in name only“.

However, with Boris Johnson’s disastrous Brexit deal, our ability to do that has actually been removed. The swapping of fish stock quotas with individual member states will no longer be allowed and leasing will be prohibitively expensive – reducing the quantity of fish in key stocks available for the Scottish industry to land, potentially putting jobs and livelihoods at risk.

No “pre-existing arrangement” on quota shares: broken Tory promise

The Scottish Tories promised no “pre-existing arrangement” would be in force, and again suggested they will not back any deal that fails to deliver it.

Avoiding a permanent link between access to waters and access to markets was a key UK government objective – but the UK government has failed on that front too.

According to the Scottish Government analysis of the Brexit deal’s impact on fishing, reductions in access to waters give the other party the right to impose tariff measures on fisheries products – another damaging impact of this Tory Brexit being imposed on Scotland’s aquaculture industry.