NFU Scotland and the Scottish Government have clashed over their support for the Prime Minister’s Brexit deal, with SNP MPs refusing to listen to the union’s call to vote for the agreement this evening (January 15).
Scotland’s Rural Economy Secretary, Fergus Ewing, told Farmers Guardian at a media huddle in Westminster on Monday (January 14), that the Scottish Government ‘fundamentally disagreed’ with NFUS about the need to back the Withdrawal Agreement to avoid a no-deal Brexit.
“We have a disagreement with the NFU fundamentally about this,” Mr Ewing said.
“We do not think the Brexit proposals the Prime Minister has set out would be anything other than very bad, if not disastrous, for Scotland.”
NFU Scotland director of policy Jonnie Hall admitted the PM’s deal did not deliver all the union’s policy asks, such as equivalence in the standard of imports or an immigration policy which allows non-UK workers to come to Scotland, but he said it ‘guaranteed a pathway to negotiate and get our industry to a more certain future’.
“After two and a half years, Scotland’s farmers and crofters deserve a far clearer picture of what their future will look like and how they can transition to change in a way that ensures they remain profitable, prosperous and productive,” Mr Hall added.
Rather than vote for the PM’s deal, Mr Ewing called on the UK Government to rule out a no-deal Brexit by revoking Article 50 and remaining in the EU.
He claimed the PM has two options if her deal is voted down by MPs – to go back to Brussels and renegotiate a new deal, something which there is no appetite for in the EU, and which Mr Ewing himself admitted he did not think would work, or unilaterally revoke Article 50, stopping Brexit altogether.
“This is messy and complex, but it is open to the Prime Minister, the day after she loses the vote, to make a statement saying she is ruling out a no-deal,” Mr Ewing said.
“By making that statement, she would restore an element of calm in the rural economy. That option is open to her. It may involve legislation, it may involve a People’s Vote, but that is just because of the messy nature of the situation we are in.”