The “huge opportunity” to revive the north-east fishing industry after the UK leaves the EU could be put at risk with a vote for the SNP next week, a senior Conservative MP has claimed.
On a visit to Peterhead fish market on Monday, Michael Gove said that the Nationalists cannot effectively defend the interests of the sector because they want to drag fishermen back into the EU and the disastrous Common Fisheries Policy (CFP).
The former cabinet minister urged people across Banff and Buchan to vote for Scottish Conservative candidate David Duguid, who could have “direct access” to the Prime Minister and the UK’s Brexit negotiating team after June 8.
Mr Gove said: “There is a tremendous opportunity to see the north-east fishing industry revived - but only if we make sure that we have a Conservative government.
“The huge opportunities available from leaving the EU would be put at risk if we have an SNP victory in the seats in the north-east in the general election.
“If that happens, it will encourage Nicola Sturgeon to pursue a second referendum to keep Scotland in the EU and that would be devastating for the fishermen in this area.
“I think that a majority of people in Banff & Buchan voted to Leave the EU. One of the reasons is that they recognise that the CFP and our membership of the EU has harmed our fishing industry.
“Eilidh Whiteford is a very nice person but her party is committed to EU membership and single market membership and that means that they cannot effectively defend the interests of the fishing industry.
“It will be a UK minister in the lead in any negotiations, so the way to maximise influence for the north-east overall, and for Peterhead and Fraserburgh in particular, is to have a Conservative MP who can have direct access to Theresa May and her ministers.”
David Duguid, Scottish Conservative candidate for Banff and Buchan, added: “I was delighted that Michael Gove was in Peterhead touring the bustling fish market and hearing first-hand the views of local skippers and processors.
“The message from our fishing industry could not be more clear. They want out of the EU and the CFP and they want to take back control of our exclusive economic area to 200 nautical miles.
“The SNP can not and will not guarantee that - and the electorate know that is the case.
"People in Banff and Buchan need a strong representative with the ear of those at the very top of government to ensure their voice is heard.
"Only a vote for the Scottish Conservatives can ensure Theresa May has the mandate she needs to secure the best Brexit deal possible for the whole of the UK."