The Scottish Government has joined fishing leaders in condemning the Brexit transition deal struck between the UK and European Commission, with Nicola Sturgeon insisting the agreement was “shaping up to be a massive sellout” of Scotland’s key fishing industry.
The First Minister hit out at the Consevatives at the same time as Bertie Armstrong, the chief executive of the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation blasted the deal as “far from acceptable”.
As a result of the agreement, the fishing fleet will “still be subject to the whim and largesse” of the European Union for a further two years, Mr Armstrong said.
Fishermen had wanted the UK to regain full control over access to the country’s fishing waters immediately after the country formally leaves the European Union in March 2019.
But on the key issue of fishing rights, the agreement – reached by Brexit Secretary David Davis and EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier – states that the UK will be “consulted” on the allocation of quotas during the transition period.
Ms Sturgeon took to Twitter to decry the deal, saying: “This is shaping up to be a massive sellout of the Scottish fishing industry by the Tories. The promises that were made to them during #EUref and since are already being broken – as many of us warned they would be.”
The SFF is now demanding a “cast iron guarantee” that the UK will have complete control over its fishing waters when the transition deal comes to an end.
Commenting on the agreement, Mr Armstrong said: “This falls far short of an acceptable deal. We will leave the EU and leave the CFP (Common Fisheries Policy), but hand back sovereignty over our seas a few seconds later.
“Our fishing communities’ fortunes will still be subject to the whim and largesse of the EU for another two years.
“Put simply, we do not trust them to look after us. So we issue this warning to the EU: be careful what you do or the consequences later will be severe.
“To our politicians we say this: some have tried to secure a better deal but our governments have let us down. ”
The transitional deal comes a week after Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson teamed up with UK Environment Secretary Michael Gove to insist that the UK must leave the CFP when Britain quits the EU.
Scottish Tory MP John Lamont has already said he could vote against the final Brexit deal if it fails to give the UK total and immediate control over fish stocks and access to them.
Fellow Scottish Conservative MP Douglas Ross, who represents the Moray constituency, said the UK Government had “delivered far less than I hoped or expected” for fishermen.
He added: “There is no spinning this as a good outcome, it would be easier to get someone to drink a pint of cold sick than try to sell this as a success”
Meanwhile Ms Davidson said it was a “disappointment” that the UK would have to “wait until 2020 to assume full control” over fishing waters.
She said: “Having spoken to fishing leaders today, I know they are deeply frustrated with this outcome.
“There is no ignoring the fact that this falls short of what they had hoped for in the short-term.”
But Ms Davidson added: “Over the long-term, today’s agreement makes clear that, from 2020, the UK will be an independent coastal state, deciding who can access our waters and on what terms.
“I am more determined than ever to ensure that this long-term prize for our fishing industry is seized.
“So I should make it clear today that I will not support a deal as we leave the EU which, over the long-term, fails to deliver that full control over fish stocks and vessel access.”
Scottish Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing however accused the Tories of “having sold out the Scottish fishing industry once again” insisting that Ms Davidson should be “shame-faced for her fastest broken Brexit promise yet”.
Mr Ewing said: “Just last week she said ‘Britain will leave the CFP as of March 2019’.
“Now we know not only will the UK have to abide by CFP rules during the transition period, it will lose the voting rights it has now. The Tories have delivered the worst possible outcome for Scotland’s fishing industry.”