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1 September 2020

Stevenson Slams Scottish Tory Leader NFUS Claims

Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has said he backs the NFUS (National Farmers Union Scotland) after its policy director criticised claims made by the leader of the Scottish Conservatives.

Moray MP Douglas Ross came under fire for twisting the views of the NFUS regarding comments he made in an interview with Good Morning Scotland.

During the interview, Mr Ross was called out over his voting record at Westminster on upholding standards - including his vote against Clause 11 in the UK's Trade Bill which looked to protect high welfare and food standards in the UK, and prevent low-quality produce - such as chlorine-washed chicken or hormone-injected beef - flooding supermarkets.

The MP claimed that NFU Scotland's policy director, Jonnie Hall, said that no MP voted to reduce animal welfare or biosecurity standards.

But in response, Mr Hall stated that he was "fuming" over the remarks, adding:

"I remain very concerned that an honest and straightforward answer to a question has been basically turned through 180 degrees to misrepresent the situation whereby I think people are being misled.”

Hall went on to say that the purpose of Clause 11 was to uphold the high food and agricultural standards currently in place - adding that he was "perplexed" over Douglas Ross' remarks and that the Scottish Tory leader had "taken my answer out of context."

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“Douglas Ross is only weeks into his role as leader of the Scottish Conservatives job and he has already been accused of twisting the words of the NFUS.

"This is not just embarrassing for the Scottish Tory leader, it is yet another sign of the Tories' sheer contempt for Scotland's vital agriculture sector.

"The fact that NFU Scotland's policy director has had to come out and call out Douglas Ross over his remarks and state that the Scottish Tory leader has misled the public is damning.

“Mr Ross must now publicly apologise to Scotland’s farmers for twisting their words, and to the Scottish public for trying to mislead them over this crucial issue.

"It's no secret that the Tories' plans will aim to lower Scotland’s world-class food standards in pursuit of a bottom of the barrel trade deal - and rather than owning up to his voting record that risks undermining Scotland's high-quality produce, Douglas Ross shamefully tried to twist the comments of NFU Scotland."

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