Local MSP Maree Todd has hit out at David Mundell, Secretary of State for Scotland. at his refusal to rule out Westminster retaining control over fishing when the UK leaves the EU.
The refusal comes after leaked documents indicated Tory UK Ministers do not consider fishing a ‘high’ priority in the UK’s Brexit negotiations – and follows Ruth Davidson MSP indicating that powers over agriculture should not be automatically devolved.
Maree Todd said:
“David Mundell’s comments will be deeply concerning to many fishermen in our coastal communities from Ullapool to Shetland. He seems to be shying away from the commitment made by the Leave campaign that fishing powers would return to the Scottish Parliament after Brexit.”
The comments were made by David Mundell when he appeared before The Scottish Parliament’s CTEER all party committee.
Maree Todd continued:
“In 2015, Shetland alone landed more fish than England, Wales and Northern Ireland combined, the Scottish fishing industry is vastly larger than that of any other part of the UK – so fishing is a high priority industry for Scotland but a low priority for the UK government.”
“It is essential for our fishing industry that these powers return to Scotland after Brexit so it is deeply worrying that the UK government may be considering a power grab. They never have represented our fishing communities effectively and I don’t think they’re about to start now”
One of the promises of the successful Leave campaign was that powers in devolved areas would automatically return to the Scottish Parliament after the UK exits the EU. Secretary of State for Scotland David Mundell refused to promise the committee that fishing powers would return, saying that he was “not going to get into specific commitments”.
Maree Todd said:
“And this follows suggestions from the Tories that fishing may be used as a bargaining chip in Brexit negotiations, risking yet another Tory sell-out of our fishing communities. This will be deeply worrying for the many people who I represent who depend on the future success of the fishing industry.”
Article 50 is due to be triggered at the end of March after which the UK’s negotiations to leave the UK will commence.