The Tory government promised a Brexit bonanza – yet they’ve only delivered harm and hardship

Over the past few weeks, we witnessed the desperation from our vital fishing communities who have been dealt a hammer blow as the Tories sold out the industry – with many firms warning that they are now on the brink as they protested outside Downing Street.

With each day that passes the extent of the broken Brexit promises by the Westminster Tory government becomes clearer.

What is staggering is that we are just less than one month into post-Brexit life and already we are hearing testimony after testimony of the damage the Tories’ reckless Brexit deal is inflicting upon businesses and livelihoods.

The fisheries fiasco emphasises yet again that we cannot believe the promises being trotted out about a supposed post-Brexit utopia.

Meanwhile, there are reports that some UK firms could resort to burning their goods because it is cheaper than navigating a mountain of Brexit red tape in order to return them to the UK.

The Tory government promised a Brexit bonanza – yet in reality have only delivered harm and hardship.

But the threat to Scotland from the Tory government’s post-Brexit Britain does not just stop there. Not content on taking back control from Brussels, Westminster is ploughing ahead with its power grab plans from the devolved governments and hoarding them in Westminster.

The consequences would be far reaching and deeply damaging for our Parliament and people.

In Westminster, I have been challenging UK government ministers for months now asking for detail on other contentious promises, including over replacement EU funding.

It is fact, not grievance, to point out that Scotland and the other devolved nations have benefitted enormously from EU membership, and in particular from regional, agricultural and structural funding.

Wales has been the biggest winner in recent years, receiving £123 person, compared to £50 in Northern Ireland, £40 in Scotland and £24 in England.

The EU’s Structural and Investment Funds – now being replaced by the so-called UK Shared Prosperity Fund – provided around £780m in the last 7-year programme alone, more than £100m a year that was spent on infrastructure, economic development and workplace training.

However, under the post-Brexit UK scheme, Scotland potentially faces seeing a sharp drop in funding – with next year’s funding of £200m for the whole of the UK meaning that Scotland will get far less than the £100m it would from being part of the EU.

Unlike Barnett funding which distributes money loosely based on population share across the UK, these EU funds recognise the need for serious regional investment to mitigate inequality. In essence, they have been ‘levelling up’ long before that particular catchphrase scored well in focus groups at Tory party headquarters.

In Scotland, EU-funded programmes have boosted innovation, created jobs, and driven sustainable growth. The European Social Fund has supported people back into employment and helped to ensure a skilled and well-trained workforce – highlighting again the wide-ranging benefits of EU membership.

Replacing these funds was never going to be an easy task. How the new so-called UK Shared Prosperity Fund is administered and distributed is absolutely vital. If London isn’t listening – or more concerningly, is refusing to listen – there could be devastating and profound consequences to our local economies in Scotland and throughout the other nations and regions of the UK.

The answers I have received in the House of Commons when I have raised serious questions about the allocation of funding under the model have been excessively hubristic, much like the sunken assurances given to the seafood industry over the past few years.

When pressed on the details, UK government ministers have ducked providing any clarity on the key details – leaving Scotland and the devolved governments in the dark.

It was then revealed earlier this month that the so-called UK Shared Prosperity Fund will completely bypass the devolved administrations, with decisions on crucial funding coming from London.

Given the Tories’ track record of undermining devolution, the threat of bypassing Holyrood and to instead dictate funding is of serious concern. The funding for Scotland should be passed to the Scottish Government to administer on behalf of the people of Scotland.

They have rubbed salt in our wounds and now they want to slap a novelty Union Jack sticking plaster across them.

Make no mistake; this is a blatant power grab and one that the Scottish people are wise to. This total disregard and disdain for our Parliament and Government has only strengthened support for Scottish independence.

With 20 consecutive polls now putting support for independence above 50%, it is clear that people in Scotland believe they have the right to decide their own future – rather than being subjected to Westminster governments that they don’t vote for.

By imposing a hard Brexit in the middle of a global pandemic, causing chaos for our industries, grabbing powers from the Scottish Parliament and denying democracy in a Trump-like fashion, the Tories have shown they cannot be trusted to act in the interests of the people of Scotland.

The UK government is on a collision course with the will of the people of Scotland. We know that they cannot and will not deliver on their promises. Whether it is fisheries or funding, Scotland is economically and socially worse off out of the EU.

Our coastal communities in Scotland have long shored up ailing Conservative support in Scotland, but the Tories will soon find out that the tide has turned on them.

Scotland is preparing to chart its own course as an independent nation.

No amount of Canute-like pronouncements at the despatch box will save the union from the brewing storm ahead.

It’s clear beyond any doubt that the only way to properly protect our interests is to become an independent country in the EU.