The SNP is “misleading” fishermen, the Scottish Conservatives have claimed, after the Rural Economy Secretary publicly contradicted the party’s long-standing position on membership of the EU and the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP).
In an interview with a daily newspaperl, Fergus Ewing claimed that opposition to the CFP “always has been” the party’s stance, and said that the SNP government would seek to join the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) post-Brexit.
However, SNP policy, as stated repeatedly by top party figures including Nicola Sturgeon and Angus Robertson, is for an independent Scotland to be a full member of the EU. The EU Fisheries Commissioner has confirmed that means being tied to the CFP.
And Mr Ewing, despite claiming to the press that he opposed the CFP, refused to sign the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation (SFF) Brexit pledge to commit to the UK leaving the EU and the CFP.
Peter Chapman MSP, Shadow Secretary for Rural Economy and Connectivity, said: “Fergus Ewing is misleading our fishermen by trying to suggest that the SNP would not simply drag them back into the EU and the hated Common Fisheries Policy.
“That is the long-standing position of the SNP, which has been repeatedly stated in recent interviews and indeed in the Holyrood chamber by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.
“The SNP are desperately trying to keep the fishermen onside, but in doing so, are presenting a chaotic and untenable position on Europe.
“If Mr Ewing was serious about his opposition to the CFP, he would have signed the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation Brexit pledge at the Skipper’s Expo in Aberdeen – but he refused to do so.
“The Scottish Conservatives are absolutely clear - we are coming out of the EU and the CFP. Indeed, Andrea Leadsom was unequivocal in her response to a recent letter to the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation that we are taking back control over our water out to 200 miles.
“Our fishermen in coastal communities across Scotland will not be fooled by the SNP.”