A claim by Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross that Brexit will give the fishing industry ”complete control” over what, where and when it can fish has been rebuffed by the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation.
Mr Ross made the astonishing claim after being challenged on a radio phone-in on the effect of his party’s hard Brexit on the Scottish fishing industry.
He said: “They [fishing communities] may be disappointed with the current scenario but over the next five years we will gain complete control over what we can fish, where and when, and who can fish in our waters.’’
When Business for Scotland asked Scottish Fishermen’s Federation chief executive Elspeth Macdonald this morning if she agreed with Mr Ross’ comments she said she stuck by the contents of her letter to Prime Minister Boris Johnson in January.
‘We find ourselves with an outcome where the EU fleet will continue to have full and unfettered access to UK waters until the middle of 2026, and should the UK want to change these arrangements at that point, the EU can impose a suite of punitive sanctions on the UK
In that letter she attacked the EU trade deal cobbled together by Boris Johnson for falling “very far short of the commitments and promises that were made”.
The letter added: ”We find ourselves with an outcome where the EU fleet will continue to have full and unfettered access to UK waters until the middle of 2026, and should the UK want to change these arrangements at that point, the EU can impose a suite of punitive sanctions on the UK. No other coastal state in the world is in this position.”
It adds: ”You and your government have spun a line about a 25% uplift in quota for the UK, but you know this is not true, and your deal does not deliver that.”
Mr Ross was taken to task over Brexit’s disastrous effect on Scottish fishing on a radio call-in on Sunday. He was accused of “failing” north-east fishing communities
Ms Macdonald did say to Boris Johnson that the deal offered a ”glimmer of hope” for 2026 … but only if the government of the day makes the right decision – ”the decision you should have made”.
Mr Ross was taken to task over Brexit’s disastrous effect on Scottish fishing on a radio call-in on Sunday. He was accused of “failing” north-east fishing communities by a caller named Peter, who claimed he was “heavily involved in the fishing industry” and had voted for the Conservatives for most of his life.
The caller said the party had created a “debacle” around Brexit. Fishing exports have been left rotting in lorries because extra red tape was making it impossible for them to reach the markets on time. The cost to the industry has been estimated to be as high as £1m a day.
Mr Ross admitted on the radio show that ‘’added bureaucracy and red tape’’ were the result of the hard Brexit trade deal which came into effect on 1 January.
But he made the false claim that the deal meant Brexit would eventually help an industry which is currently on its knees because of the mistakes his party made over leaving the EU.
Mr Ross is also facing suggestions that he has been ‘’sidelined’’ in the Conservative Scottish election campaign. His predecessor as Tory leader in Scotland, Ruth Davidson, is spearheading the party’s ‘’tactical voting push’’ in the election. The news came as a Sunday Times poll suggested pro-independence parties were on course for a 29-seat majority at the May election.
That poll was published after the first TV election debate featuring Scottish party leaders. Mr Ross performance was widely criticised even by Union supporters.
Tory insiders have been quoted saying Ms Davidson is to be the “key voice” in a big push to persuade Unionists to vote tactically for the party on the regional list.
Mr Ross has been repeatedly forced to deny that he was being “eclipsed” by Ms Davidson. The Moray MP said, “I’m the leader of the party” but added Ms Davidson “has been our most successful Scottish Conservative leader to date, and she is someone I think is absolutely right to have as part of our campaign.’’
To add to Tory woes in Scotland Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Chancellor Rishi Sunak are expected to make interventions shortly in the campaign.