SCOTLAND’S fishing and farming chiefs are among food and drink bosses who have written to Boris Johnson demanding a new six-month Brexit extension.

They are among the signatories to the hard-hitting open letter to the Prime Minister which warns him of “the catastrophic impact” if the UK crashes out of the EU in less than 60 days.

The letter says they are making the direct approach to him after failing to get a proper response to a letter and a request for a meeting with Environment Secretary George Eustice seven weeks ago.

The document was signed by a long list of organisations representing Scotland’s food and drink sector, including Jimmy Buchan, chief executive of Scottish Seafood Association; James Withers, chief executive, Scotland Food & Drink; and Scott Walker, chief executive of the National Farmers’ Union Scotland.

Their top demand is for a six month extension, which they describe as a “grace period”.

“As a top priority, the UK Government must negotiate a six-month “grace period” from the end of the transition period to allow businesses to adjust to the new rules. This was ultimately what the transition period was meant to do but there remains a number of unanswered questions around trading arrangements after 31 December,” said the letter.

“Most significantly, Brexit preparations planned for 2020 have been lost to a battle against a global pandemic. A six-month grace period would enable businesses to trade with the new rules but without fear of significant border disruption, enforcement action and loss of further revenue.”

The letter also sets out a demand for financial compensation for

producers, processors, manufacturers and distributors who encounter losses as a direct result of border or market disruption, initially for a three-month period but to be reviewed thereafter.

Further demands are to finalise operational arrangements for enabling the smooth passage for seafood consignments across the Channel ... and at other ports; and a commitment from the UK Government that its newly procured ferry service capacity can be used for exporting seafood consignments if required.

They also call for food and drink sector roles to be added to “the Scottish Shortage Occupation List”.

The letter has been published by Holyrood’s Europe committee which is taking evidence on the trade talks. They said food and drink is one of Scotland’s fastest growing and globally recognised sectors, with a value of £15 billion per annum and is critical to Scotland’s economy.

The letter stated: “We wrote to your Cabinet colleague George Eustice, Secretary of State at DEFRA, seven weeks ago... We have yet to receive a substantive reply ... or the offer of a meeting that was requested. Needless to say this is enormously disappointing and leaves us questioning the commitment to acknowledge, let alone address, our concerns. In light of this, we now seek urgent action and assurances directly from you.”