Scotland is preparing to seek billions of pounds of compensation from the UK Government to support its farmers in the event of a no-deal Brexit, Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing has said.
Mr Ewing told Farmers Guardian of his intention to request the cash during a media huddle in Westminster on Monday (January 14).
The huddle took place ahead of a devolved administrations meeting with Defra Secretary Michael Gove, at which Mr Ewing called on Mr Gove to ‘rule out’ a no-deal Brexit altogether.
Asked by FG whether the Scottish Government would follow Irish Agriculture Minister Michael Creed’s lead in demanding €500 million from the EU for the Irish beef sector in the event of a no-deal Brexit, Mr Ewing said: “We will absolutely continue to champion the case for farmers, and if there are losses for farmers resulting from a no-deal, then Mr Gove is responsible for them.
“The Republic of Ireland as a member state is in a different position, it would be able to invoke its rights as a member of the EU to seek compensation. We will be out, so we will have to recover our costs from the UK Government.
“They have already made some extra provision for the costs of civil servants, so they have already accepted the principle [of meeting additional expenses], it would simply be putting it into practice.”
Mr Ewing refused to put a figure on the amount of money which would need to be paid out to Scottish farmers, but estimated the cost would be ‘billions’.
Welsh Rural Affairs Minister Lesley Griffiths also told Mr Gove at the devolved meeting that Wales should not foot the bill to support farmers in the event of a no-deal Brexit.
A Welsh Government spokesman said: “We expect the UK Government to ensure it can meet any additional costs imposed by managing a no-deal and responding to its possible impact on farmers.
“We have been clear Wales must not lose out as a result of leaving the EU.”
It is not clear whether the UK Government is prepared to offer any no-deal compensation to Scottish, Welsh or English farmers.
A Defra spokesman said it was the job of any responsible Government to prepare for all possible scenarios, but would not be drawn on the possibility of giving additional financial support.