This week, Scottish Labour candidate for Orkney and Shetland in the General Election to be held on Thursday 12th of December, Coilla Drake gave her views on Brexit and the effect it could have on industry in Shetland and Orkney.
Coilla Drake felt that this depended on whether we actually leave the EU or not – and what type of Brexit we leave with if we do. She pointed out the loss of funding to Orkney and Shetland which would result if the UK leaves the EU and that none of the options would be good.
“That is why Scottish Labour believe we should remain. The other options would be too damaging to our economy. But we are still willing to put a credible Brexit option and the choice to remain to the British people and let them have the final say.”
She went on to say that for farmers and crofters, Brexit of any sort would mean removal of funding from the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) and loss of European Structural funding. This is a source of great uncertainty and anxiety. A No Deal or Hard Brexit would bring the likelihood of cheap, sub-standard foods from US and other markets, threatening livelihoods.
Coilla said that Labour would maintain agricultural and rural structural funds but repurpose them to support environmental land management and sustainable methods of food production. They will also work to increase access to farming for new entrants. Additionally new regional banks will provide access to funding and the Green New Deal policies will encourage generation of renewable energy on farms and transition from fossil fuel driven equipment to green alternatives.
Among fishermen, states Coilla, leaving the EU has generally been considered to be beneficial as it would mean an end to the Common Fisheries Policy. However, this would not mean the end of regulation as coastal nations will still have to comply with international regulation on conservation of fish stocks and have mutual agreements on fishing in each other’s waters. In addition, landing fish in Europe would become more complex. Labour will redistribute quotas along social and environmental criteria and require the majority of fish caught under the UK quota to be landed in UK ports.
Tourism is a major industry in Orkney and a growing one in Shetland Coilla believes that a major issue is attracting sufficient staff from other countries. There are also going to be be issues around the increased bureaucracy on entering the country if there is no customs union, exchange rates and the possible loss of European tourists. Orkney and Shetland are increasingly a premium destination for European tourism and very important to our economy.
“The Brexit situation has been causing uncertainty and anxiety for far too long. Labour is committed to negotiating a deal with the EU including membership of a single market and a customs union within three months, and our Brexit team have been working on this with the EU.
“We would then put this deal and the option to remain back to the people in a Referendum within six months of being elected, where Scottish Labour would campaign for Remain.
“Vote Labour for a way forward for all our futures.”
There are 6 candidates standing in the Orkney and Shetland Constituency to be held on Thursday 12th of December.
David Stephen Barnard, Independent
Alistair Carmichael, Scottish Liberal Democrats
Coilla Anne Drake, Scottish Labour Party
Jennifer Fairbairn, Scottish Conservative and Unionist
Robert Fraser Leslie. Scottish National Party (SNP)
Robert Watt Smith, The Brexit Party