Ruth Davidson: Nicola Sturgeon treating fishermen with ‘utter contempt’ over plan to re-enter Common Fisheries Policy

Ruth Davidson has accused Nicola Sturgeon of treating Scots fishermen with ‘utter contempt’

Ruth Davidson has accused Nicola Sturgeon of treating fishing communities “with utter contempt” after the EU confirmed the SNP’s plans for a separate Scotland to rejoin would bring the industry back under the control of the hated Common Fisheries Policy.

The Scottish Tory leader published a letter from Karmenu Vella, the European Commissioner for fisheries, stating that a new EU member state could not opt out of the CFP.

Speaking ahead of a general election campaign visit to the fishing port of Peterhead, in the Tory target seat of Banff and Buchan, Ms Davidson said Ms Sturgeon’s independence blueprint meant returning to the CFP but “she wants to pretend otherwise.”

But Dr Whiteford claimed the UK Government was preparing to sell out the industry during the Brexit talks, citing a letter from Andrea Leadsom, the Environment Secretary, stating they are “committed to ongoing cooperation with other countries over the management of shared stocks.”

Nicola Sturgeon accompanied by Eilidh Whiteford on a campaign stop at the May Day event in Turriff last week Credit: AFP

The Royal College of General Practitioners (Scotland) also warned that Brexit could worsen the shortage of family doctors and urged all political parties to guarantee that those from other EU member states can stay.

Ms Davidson questioned why only four per cent of EU migrants settle in Scotland and blamed the SNP’s decision to impose higher taxes than south of the Border and its shoddy management of the education system.

Speaking ahead of Wednesday’s Peterhead visit, she said: “Nicola Sturgeon is treating Scotland’s fishing communities with utter contempt. The SNP cannot have it both ways. Scotland’s fishing communities will not be fooled by them.

Fishermen see great opportunities after Brexit so the most important thing for their industry is to secure the best deal for Scotland and the whole of the UK when we leave the EU.”

Mr Vella’s letter to Ian Duncan, a Scottish Tory MEP and general election candidate for Perth and North Perthshire, said “the conditions of admission and the adjustment to the Treaties” would be agreed between the applicant state and the existing EU members.

But he added: “It has to be underlined however that an opt out from an exclusive competence area as the Common Fisheries Policy goes beyond a mere adjustment to the Treaties that may be justified by the admission of a new Member State.”

Scottish fishermen on the east coast pick up lobster pots near Bass rockCredit: David Cheskin

Banff and Buchan is one of the few areas of Scotland that voted for Brexit and its MP was Alex Salmond until he stood down at the 2010 election to focus full-time on being First Minister. Dr Whiteford is defending a 14,339 majority.

She highlighted a letter from Ms Leadsom to the SFF, saying it was “a bombshell which utterly demolishes the Tories’ bogus claims about fishing.”

The correspondence, dated April 19, said: “No decision has yet been made on the extent to which the EU legislation governing the Common Fisheries Policy will be incorporated into domestic law.

“However, as we leave, we will look to disapply the key elements of the CFP that are most unpopular and unworkable for the UK as a coastal state, including those on mutual access and EU-level quota setting.”

Dr Whiteford said: “The cat is now out of the bag – while Ruth Davidson is heading to the North-east to pretend the Tories are the fishermen’s friends, her Westminster bosses are plotting a gigantic sell-out.”

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