17 January 2017

Stevenson Blasts May for Ignoring Fisheries in Brexit Speech

SNP MSP Demands Scottish Government Representation at EU Fisheries Talks

SNP MSP Stewart Stevenson has condemned Theresa May after she failed to clarify the future of fisheries after Brexit in her speech this morning – with the only mention of fishing being an unclear reference to “Spanish fishermen”.

The Tory PM’s speech came ahead of a members’ debate, in which Mr Stevenson will call on the UK government to allow a Scottish Minister to lead UK negotiations over fisheries in the forthcoming Brexit talks. Scottish fishing interests were treated as expendable by the Tories in the 1970s, and Mr Stevenson will demand that the UK government does not let this happen again in the negotiations over the UK’s withdrawal from the EU.

This morning, Theresa May took time to tell “Spanish fishermen” that they’d be worse off without the UK but provided no detail on what Brexit will mean for Scotland’s fishing industry, which accounts for 85% of the value of the UK fishing industry. The confirmation by the Prime Minister that the UK will leave the single market is damaging, with Scottish fish and seafood exports to the EU totalling £438 million in 2015.

Commenting, SNP MSP for Banffshire and Buchan Coast, Stewart Stevenson, said:

“The hard Tory Brexit that Theresa May is set to deliver will be devastating for Scotland, costing 80,000 jobs and hitting our economy by £11.2 billion a year. The fishing industry will feel the impact of this, with loss of single market membership risking the £438 million of Scottish fish and seafood exports to the EU – yet Theresa May had absolutely nothing to say on Scottish fisheries this morning.

“The Prime Minister’s approach is wholly unacceptable. The fact that she only mentioned fishing when telling ‘Spanish fishermen’ that they’d be worse off without a deal between the EU and the UK – which will be sure to raise eyebrows in fishing communities – whilst providing no detail on what fishing in Scotland will look like after her hard Brexit. This just shows that the Tories see our fishing fleets as expendable once again.

“Scotland’s fishing interests in Europe must be properly represented and fully protected, and the only way for that to happen is by allowing a Scottish minister to lead for the UK when negotiations get under way.

“It is not a perfect solution, but it is the best insurance policy. Given that Scottish fisheries account for 85% of the value of the UK fishing industry, it’s the fair and sensible approach.

“The Scottish fishing industry has been treated as expendable by the Tory government in the past – using our resources as a bargaining chip when entering the EEC in the 1970s. We must not allow the Tories to sell us down the river yet again.”

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