Nicola Sturgeon to PUSH forward with EU ties and snub Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal

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The First Minister will lead a debate in Holyrood this afternoon on whether to support Boris Johnson’s trade agreement. Tensions between Edinburgh and London are running high over the Brexit deal as the SNP accuse Boris Johnson of taking Scotland “out of the EU” against their will.

Ms Sturgeon said the SNP led Scottish Government has recommended that consent is not given to the UK Government’s “inadequate and damaging” Brexit deal with the EU, which is currently being debated in the Commons.

A Legislative Consent Memorandum (LCM) lodged with the Scottish Parliament recognises that the people of Scotland have never given their backing to Brexit and says that the Future Relationship Bill fails to protect Scottish and UK interests.

The consent motion, seen by Express.co.uk, adds: “The Scottish Government continues to believe that the best future for Scotland is to become an independent country and Member State of the EU.”

The motion says the Scottish Government will argue “constructively for the UK to have a more beneficial relationship short of full membership with the EU”.

Scottish Government officials told Express.co.uk the motion was a “key springboard” to prepare for Scotland to resume “full membership of the EU as an independent country”.

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Scottish Labour, Scottish Liberal Democrats and Scottish Greens will join the party and back the agreement, meaning it is unable to gain a majority unless MSPs break the party line.

In a statement ahead of the vote, Ms Sturgeon said: “The Scottish Government and Scottish Parliament consistently suggested alternatives. While recognising the UK would leave the EU, we proposed staying in the single market and customs union.

“The UK Government dismissed these ideas.

“It disregarded Scotland’s views, values and interests. It has agreed a deal which is disastrous for Scotland.

“The UK Government’s deal will impose costs on businesses, reduce the opportunities of its citizens, and sacrifice its own international influence – in order to gain powers it will struggle to use.”

Westminster leader Ian Blackford said the message to Scotland’s EU citizens is that the country is their home and that they are welcome.

He told MPs this morning: “When this bad Brexit deal was published, one of the very first public images that were released showed the Prime Minister raising his arms aloft in celebration.

“When I saw that image, my thoughts immediately turned to the European nationals who have made their home here, because they’re certainly not celebrating.

“During the four years and more of this Brexit mess, the main emotion they have felt is worry – worry about staying here, worrying about their jobs and real worry for their families.

“In Scotland, these citizens are our friends, they are our family, they are our neighbours.

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“So before this Tory Government forces through a deal that rips us out of the European Union, the single market and the customs union, let us get this message out to Scotland’s EU citizens – Scotland is your home, you are welcome.”

The Scottish Government remains most concerned about the fishing aspect of the deal which means fewer access to fish than under the existing Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) arrangements.

They published data which claims the amount of North Sea cod, haddock and whiting landed by fishermen will fall as a result.

Research published yesterday found that of 18 species, there would be the chance to land more fish for only five.

Ms Sturgeon claimed the study showed promises to the industry had been “spectacularly broken” whilst Scotland’s Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing branded it a “terrible outcome for Scotland’s coastal communities.”

Under the terms, 25 per cent of EU fishing rights in UK waters will be transferred to the UK fleet, over a period lasting up to June 30, 2026. 

There will then be annual negotiations on the amount of fish EU vessels can take from British waters.

The UK Government has argued this represents a major improvement on the EU’s CFP.

But according to Scottish Government officials, because the ability to swap quotas with other member states will end and leasing extra quotas will be prohibitively expensive, the ability to land some crucial species will reduce in practice.

While the research pointed to increased opportunities to fish for species such as mackerel and herring, it said there would be fewer for several species of white fish such as North Sea cod, haddock, saithe and whiting.

 

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Currently, the average UK landing percentage of total EU and UK quota combined for North Sea cod is 63.5 per cent.

However, the analysis says this will drop to 57 per cent under the Brexit deal.

Similar decreases have been estimated for North Sea haddock, Rockall haddock, North Sea saithe, North Sea whiting and North Sea hake.

Mike Park, chief executive of the Scottish White Fish Producers Association, said his members were “deeply aggrieved”.

The Scottish Fishermen’s Federation said that the deal “falls very far short” of government pledges.

Elspeth Macdonald, the group’s chief executive, added: “Although we are glad to be out of the CFP, our battle to secure better arrangements for our fishermen is far from over.

“We are now a coastal state with one hand tied behind our back and the industry’s task in the months and years ahead is to right the wrongs of this deal.”

But urging MPs north of the Border to back the agreement, Scottish Secretary Alister Jack said: “The deal the UK Government has secured with the EU is great news for Scotland. It is the first zero tariffs, zero quotas deal the EU has ever agreed and is good news for Scottish fisheries, taking us out of the CFP and restoring our status as an independent coastal state.”

Additional reporting by Tom Martin, Scottish Express Political Editor


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