Today, MP for Banff and Buchan, Dr Eilidh Whiteford MP, questioned the Prime Minister on her passing reference to the interests of Spanish fishermen during the negotiations to leave the EU.
During yesterday’s speech, Theresa May took time to tell “Spanish Fishermen” that they’d be worse off without a good deal between the EU and the UK.
Dr Whiteford took her opportunity at Prime Minister’s Questions today to say “The Prime Minister’s passing reference to the interests of Spanish fishermen in her speech yesterday let the cat out of the bag, that access to UK fishing grounds is already on the table as a bargaining chip before the Brexit negotiations have even started. What exactly does the Prime Minister think she can offer Spanish fishermen?”
Dr Whiteford said: “Just a few months ago, I called on the UK Government to support the Scottish fishing industry and the communities that it helps support by giving it the assurances that we need that Scottish fishing interests won’t be subjugated in favour of other economic and strategic priorities.
“It is now clear from what Theresa May has said that the Tories continue to consider the fishing industry of Scotland as expendable. It is worrying that the UK Government seem to have copied their advice papers from the negotiations in the 70s when the Scottish fishing fleet was betrayed.
“The biggest risk to the 'sea of opportunity' the fishing industry anticipates from leaving the CFP is that our fishing opportunities are traded away during the course of the Brexit negotiations, leaving a 'business as usual' outcome for our fleet. The PM's evasive answer today fuels my concern that fishing will be an expendable pawn in the UK's Brexit negotiations, just as it was when the UK joined the EU in 1972.
“The hard Brexit that Theresa May is set to deliver is nothing near the Norwegian style deal which fishermen were promised during the campaign, and will Inevitably impact on Scottish fish and seafood exports to the EU, trade worth £438m in 2015.
“There is only one way that Scotland’s fishing interests in Europe can be properly representing and full protected, and that would be by allowing a Scottish minister to lead for the UK when negotiations begin. It’s in no way unreasonable that Scotland, which accounts for 85% of the value of the UK fishing industry, should lead these discussions.”