Politicians and industry leaders react to EU vote
Politicians and industry leaders have given their reaction to the nationwide vote in favour of a UK exit from the European Union.
Shetland’s MSP and MP have called for stability before any decisions surrounding Brexit are made.
They have criticised the vote in favour of a divorce from the EU, insisting the decision to leave has led to an overall picture of “division and uncertainty”.
Voters in Shetland supported continued membership of the EU, with the remain vote reaching 56.5 per cent.
But the overall vote across the UK saw a slim majority of 51.9 per cent of voters back the leave campaign.
A joint statement released by Alistair Carmichael and Tavish Scott – as well as Orkney’s MSP Liam McArthur – has described the result as “very disappointing”.
“While it is encouraging to see Orkney and Shetland supporting the UK’s continued membership of the EU, the overall picture this morning is one of division and uncertainty. The UK will now leave the EU.
“In all the uncertainty ahead we still firmly believe that it is not in the interests of the islands to cut our ties with, or isolate ourselves from, our European partners.
“We have always been and are at our best when we look outwards.
We have always been and are at our best when we look outwards
“Our islands, and the country as a whole, need stability and time to come to terms with this result before any steps are taken.”
Meanwhile, Scotland’s two biggest fishing associations have urged the governments in Edinburgh and London to work with them to secure better fishing opportunities.
Leaders of the Scottish White Fish Producers’ Association and Shetland Fishermen’s Association have acknowledged that most of their members had wanted out of the EU.
But they emphasised that the UK’s exit would not bring long-term benefits unless there was now close collaboration with Holyrood and Westminster on new UK and Scottish fisheries policy.
SFA executive officer Simon Collins said: “We will be looking to work together with politicians and civil servants in Edinburgh and London to focus on helping the industry secure improved fishing opportunities and a set of practical, sensible rules that everyone can adhere to while preserving livelihoods and fish stocks.”
SWFPA chief executive Mike Park said: “European Union fisheries policy is flawed – that is why so many fishermen voted to leave.
“But we need to recognise that there are significant dangers to the industry if the UK and Scottish governments do not react to the very clear message by focusing on a new approach that recognises fishermen themselves and their communities as the key stakeholders.
“Members of the SWFPA insist that we stay on course with regard to sustainable harvesting and sensible fishing, and they are equally insistent that unworkable laws be changed.”
NFU Shetland president Jim Nicolson said: “As far as agriculture is concerned in Shetland there will be concerns over subsidy payments while at the same time quite a lot of folk have felt that EU regulations were very restrictive.”
Mr Nicolson said that uncertainty rather than overwhelming concern best summed up his feelings about the result. He had had little feedback so far from the NFUs 220 members in Shetland, most of whom are crofters rather than farmers.
He said that it was his understanding a little over 900 crofters and famers in Shetland claim the base subsidy payment so that amounted to a “significant” element of agricultural income.
Brian Nugent of Scottish Leave Left said that he was disappointed with the vote in Shetland and Scotland but pleased with the overall UK result. He also said that 43 per cent of Shetland voters had voted against the official line of the liberal, Conservative, Labour and SNP parties and that left local politicians in something of a quandary.
He said that his personal position would not change in that he would be looking for independence for Scotland, although whether such a referendum would be held anytime soon was another matter.
He also questioned whether the Brexit vote would precipitate the breakup of the EU, given the “lack of democracy in the EU”.
Nationally, he said there was no longer a role for Ukip, which had achieved its aim, and that Labour in England and Wales appeared to be suffering the same fate as Scottish Labour.