Nicola Sturgeon has claimed the Conservatives are preparing to sell out Scotland’s fishing industry, as she denied the Scottish Government was undermining Brexit talks.
The first minister made the claim after she was tackled on reports this week that a Scottish Government intervention in the deadlocked discussions had made the talks harder for UK negotiators.
The UK Government is attempting the play hardball in the Brexit negotiations, insisting the UK must become a fully independent coastal state to take back control of waters and fishing.
What this story sounds to me like, actually, is the UK Government preparing the ground to sell out yet again Scotland’s fishing industry and looking for somebody else to blame. Well, when and if they do sell out Scotland’s fishing industry the only people to blame will be the Tories in the UK Government.”
However, it was reported that the Scottish Government expressed the view that “both sides need to move a bit” when fisheries were discussed at a meeting in February. The Conservatives have repeatedly attacked the SNP’s pro-EU position, arguing it would result in the UK having to remain in the hated Common Fisheries Policy.
Regular discussions have been taking place between senior Scottish Government figures and Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator.
The Scottish Government intervention is said to have been mentioned to the UK Government’s negotiating team by their opposite numbers in Europe.
According to reports, it was then raised in an official conversation between the Scottish and UK governments where Westminster sources said they “called out” their Holyrood counterparts.
Westminster sources claimed the Scottish Government’s behaviour undermined the UK Government and Scottish fishermen by stopping the UK from speaking “as one voice” when arguing for the UK to become an independent coastal state.
At First Minister’s Questions, North-East Tory MSP Peter Chapman asked Ms Sturgeon to “confirm or deny” whether the Scottish Government’s intervention took place.
Ms Sturgeon said neither she nor anyone else in the Scottish Government had tried to undermine the EU negotiations, saying the UK Government was doing that all by itself.
“I would ask the member to reflect on what has transpired over the last couple of days. The UK Government has just published a bill that they admit breaks international law. They are trashing the United Kingdom’s international reputation and frankly it is disgraceful.
“What this story sounds to me like, actually, is the UK Government preparing the ground to sell out yet again Scotland’s fishing industry and looking for somebody else to blame. Well, when and if they do sell out Scotland’s fishing industry the only people to blame will be the Tories in the UK Government.”