The Scottish Government has hit out at Defra Secretary Michael Gove for suggesting the UK will spend ‘additional’ money on farmers in Scotland after Brexit.
Mr Gove told a fringe event at the Scottish Conservative Conference earlier this month that the UK should be able to spend cash on agricultural projects to ‘strengthen the union’ after the Scottish Government had been given their ‘fair share’.
But Scotland’s Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing claimed his comments ignored the fact that convergence cash returned by the EU for Scottish hill farmers had been distributed across the UK and was yet to be returned.
“His argument seemed to be if there was additional money for agriculture, he should decide where it goes,” Mr Ewing said during an interview with Farmers Guardian.
“This is complete nonsense and an insult to our intelligence, because we have not received extra money. We have been short-changed by £160 million.
“He acknowledges that, because he agreed there should be a convergence review – a promise which he was unable to fulfill.
“So it is quite absurd for him to say he should predate devolved competence with so-called extra money, when he short-changed us to the tune of £14,000 for every farmer and crofter in Scotland.”
Mr Ewing went on to say the plan to spend money on farming in other nations did not show respect for the devolution settlement, which makes clear agriculture is a devolved matter.
“It would be I think illegal and contrary to the Scotland Act for him to do so,” he added.
“I imagine the same arguments would apply for Wales if that was the view to be taken in Wales, and Northern Ireland as well, though it is up to colleagues in those regions to speak for themselves.”