The SNP has called for Boris Johnson to seek a Brexit grace period for Scotland – warning the Prime Minister’s “hardest of Tory Brexits is causing the maximum damage” for Scottish firms.
Last week, the UK government asked for an extension until 2023 to the grace period for Brexit checks on trade moving between Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
Ian Blackford MP (pictured) said a similar move was needed for Scotland – warning Scottish firms face mounting costs, red tape and barriers to trade “as a direct result of the damaging decision to rip Scotland out of the EU single market.”
The SNP Westminster Leader said the Scottish food and drink industry is losing millions of pounds as a result of Brexit, and needs urgent support and compensation.
At a Scottish Affairs Committee session on fishing on Thursday, Chief Executive of Scotland Food and Drink James Withers told MPs “We have ended up with a trading regime that has become complex, costly, slow, prone to breakdown at its best and at worst the door to the EU market has been closed altogether for some food exporters across Scotland.
“The Industry asked, pleaded for a grace period, that plea really fell on deaf ears.
“We’ve had a dreadful first few weeks of trading in the post-Brexit world, there is no way of sugar-coating it.”
Scottish Seafood Association Chief Executive Jimmy Buchan also told MPs “We do need some sort of grace period, we have asked for it” warning “brand Scotland is being damaged right now because of the inaction” and the Clyde Fishermen’s Association’s Elaine Whyte agreed a grace period for Scotland was the “sensible” thing to do.
It comes amid reports UK exports to the EU have fallen by 68% – and a new YouGov poll showing the overwhelming majority of Scots think Brexit has gone badly since the transition period ended on 31st December, while just 17% think it has gone well.
Commenting, SNP Westminster Leader Ian Blackford MP said:
“Boris Johnson’s extreme Tory Brexit has been devastating for Scotland’s food and drink industry, which has already lost millions of pounds as a direct result of the damaging decision to rip Scotland out of the EU single market.
“This hardest of Tory Brexits is causing the maximum damage to Scottish firms, who are facing mountains of added costs, red tape and barriers to trade that we didn’t face as an EU member.
“Ultimately, the only way to protect Scotland’s economy is to become an independent country and regain the full trading benefits of EU membership.
“In the meantime, it is crucial that the UK government delivers the immediate support and financial compensation that Scotland requires – including an emergency grace period to mitigate the damage of Brexit.
“The Tory government has already sought a grace period for Northern Ireland until 2023 but yet again Scotland’s interests have been sidelined.
“Any deal for Northern Ireland is welcome – but Scotland must get the same instead of being left out in the cold again.
“Northern Ireland is also getting £755million to mitigate the costs of Brexit for businesses. Scotland must get equivalent support to ensure Scottish businesses are not left behind.
“Scotland has been completely ignored by Westminster throughout the Brexit process and we are now being forced to pay a devastating price.
“The people of Scotland have a right to decide their own future, so we can put Scotland’s future in Scotland’s hands – not Boris Johnson’s.”