Parliamentary candidate urged to clarify stance on fishing industry

editorial image

The SNP candidate for Angus has been challenged by his Conservative opponent over his stance on a post-Brexit fishing industry.

Earlier this week Kirstene Hair, Scottish Conservative candidate for Angus, questioned the SNP’s Mike Weir over his decision to vote against the triggering of Article 50 to leave the EU and later his support for a pro-Brexit commitment from the Scottish Fisherman’s Federation.

Ms Hair said the Conservative UK Government is committed to leaving the EU and securing the best possible Brexit deal for key sectors of the Scottish economy including fishing, farming and financial services.

She said: “Mike Weir went along with the SNP party line to oppose the triggering of Article 50, despite the UK-wide majority to leave the EU in June’s referendum.

“However, he then signed a pro-Brexit fishing pledge, which supports the UK’s withdrawal from the EU and the disastrous Common Fisheries Policy (CFP).

“That directly contradicts SNP party policy, which is for an independent Scotland to be a member of the EU and to stay locked into the CFP.

“He cannot have it both ways. Mr Weir is either opposed to Brexit or in favour of us leaving the EU and the CFP.

“I think the people of Angus deserve some clarity.

“The Scottish Conservatives are committed to following through on the UK-wide vote to leave the EU.

“We are committed to exiting the CFP and securing a better deal for our fishermen, who can see a huge opportunity for the sector from Brexit.”

In response, Mike Weir, SNP candidate for re-election as an MP for Angus, said: “The position of the Conservatives is one of breath-taking hypocrisy.

“When the UK enters the EU their government stated that the Scottish fishing industry was expendable and the current UK Government’s White Paper on Brexit makes clear that they are prepared to use the industry as a bargaining chip in the negotiations.

“The SNP has always opposed the Common Fisheries Policy and sought changes but the negotiations have always been conducted by the UK Government who have never seen this as a priority.

“There may be an opportunity for Scottish Fishermen to increase catches outside the EU but there are also potential difficulties - not least with markets for these catches - a sufficient processing sector and the prospects of significant tariffs against Scottish seafood, and indeed agricultural produce .

“At a recent meeting of the Brexit Select Committee at Westminster the UK Brexit Secretary admitted agricultural produce could face ruinous tariffs.

“My position is quite clear that Scotland should remain within the Single Market and I have been absolutely consistent on that as has the Scottish Government in their compromise paper rejected by the UK government.

“Unfortunately, the current Conservative UK Government are pressing ahead with a negotiating strategy that is likely to lead to the hardest of hard Brexits with disastrous consequences to the local economy of Angus. “