THEY can’t say they weren’t warned, but there was still shock in Scotland’s fishing communities and anger among Scottish Tories when it was revealed ON Friday that the price of Prime Minister Theresa May getting a deal with the European Union may be the sacrifice of Scotland’s fisheries.

The Telegraph reported that the UK Government was considering granting EU fishing fleets wide-ranging access to UK fishing waters in return for a UK-wide Brexit deal.

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The report has not been denied by May or her ministers including arch-Brexiteer Michael Gove, UK Environment Secretary who has promised to take back control of UK fisheries.

Westminster has already conceded that the Common Fisheries Policy will continue to apply to UK waters until December, 2020, but the possibility of a permanent access deal caused howls of anger among fishers and Tories alike.


Ross Thomson, Tory MP for Aberdeen South, tweeted: “Any guarantee of full continued access to our fishing waters for the EU beyond December 2020 is totally unacceptable. We must have complete sovereignty over our EEZ and any access by EU vessels is done so on our terms. This is a blood red line for the @ScotTories MPs.”

Alan Hastings, of pro-Brexit group Fishing for Leave, said: “It is how weak the Government has been that has encouraged the EU to think they can rub Britain’s nose in the mud over this totemic issue.

“May will think she can keel over on this issue to obtain her terrible vassal state Chequers plan. She has another thing coming if she thinks British fishermen and coastal communities are going to lie down to a second sell-out that will finish most of us after next March.”

The SNP duly warned that the Prime Minister is setting up Scotland’s fishing communities for yet another sell-out in order to secure a Brexit deal that appeases factions within her warring party.

Deidre Brock MP said: “Today’s revelation is yet another reminder that the Tory Government cannot be trusted. They are once again preparing to sell-out the interests of Scotland’s fishing community on the way out of the EU, just as they did on the way in.

“The failure to protect Scotland’s fishing community lies entirely at the door of the Tories who have done nothing to prevent these issues from arising. For decades, Scottish fishing interests have been expendable to the Tories.

“It has become clear beyond doubt that Theresa May is attempting to mash together a deal that will not last and is not in the interests of the UK. The Prime Minister is leading Scotland down the road to ruin.

“The Tories think they can do whatever they want to Scotland and get away with it. The SNP is determined not to let them. We will continue to champion the interests of Scotland’s fishing community, both at Holyrood and Westminster, and press for all the powers over fishing to remain devolved – that is the only way to best safeguard the interests of the fishing industry.”

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Meanwhile First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has highlighted “real weaknesses” in the UK’s devolution settlement, as she again urged Tory leaders to consider keeping the whole UK in the single market.

Speaking after “frank” exchanges with Cabinet Office Minister David Lidington on the differences between the Scottish and UK Governments over their approach to exiting the EU, the First Minister said: “I will make no bones about the fact that the Brexit experience has exposed real weaknesses within the devolution settlement that will require them to be worked through and resolved along the way.

“There have been frustrations on the part of the Scottish Government about lack of engagement and involvement – obviously we’ve had quite heated debates and discussions around power grabs on the devolved parliaments and issues around how the power of the devolved administrations are respected.”

It follows a vote in Holyrood on Wednesday that saw a majority of MSPs express their “unequivocal support” for a second referendum on the final terms of Brexit.

The First Minister backed that call and added: “My preferred option all along, if the UK is leaving the EU, which I regret, is that it should seek to stay in the single market and the customs union, which would resolve along the way the issues around it, with the Northern Ireland/Republic border and the border between Ireland and Great Britain.”