THE SNP have said “independence is the only way to keep Scotland safe from the long-term damage of Brexit” as new figures show UK food and drink exports to the EU almost halved in the first quarter since Brexit.

Analysis from the Food and Drink Federation (FDF) reveals EU sales dropped by 47% in the first three months of this year to a 10-year low – causing a loss of £2 billion to the UK economy. The figures show fish (-51.7%), salmon (-19.7%), whisky (-32.3%), lamb (-14.3%), and cheese (-71.7%) were among the products hardest hit.

Sales fell across Europe, with exports to Ireland (-70.8%), Spain (-62.9%), Italy (-61%), and Germany (-54.9%) falling the most.

The FDF’s head of international trade, Dominic Goudie, said the collapse in exports was a “disaster” for the industry.

He added that it was “a very clear indication of the scale of losses that UK manufacturers face in the longer-term due to new trade barriers with the EU”.

SNP international trade spokesperson Drew Hendry MP called Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal “disastrous” for Scotland’s long-term future.

He said: “It is increasingly clear that independence is the only way to keep Scotland safe from the long-term damage of Boris Johnson’s hard Tory Brexit deal, which has been disastrous.

“Brexit has already cost Scotland billions of pounds – and analysis shows it will continue to hit our economy, cutting Scotland’s GDP by up to £9bn by 2030 compared to EU membership.

“Our food and drink industry has already suffered – with fishing communities, farmers, and businesses across Scotland losing millions of pounds in trade.”

He continued: “Once the Covid crisis is over, it is essential that people in Scotland have the right to determine their own future in a post-pandemic independence referendum, so we can regain the benefits of EU membership and build a strong, fair and equal recovery that meets Scotland’s needs.”