Sacrificing the fishing? (Magnie Stewart)
Following the people of the United Kingdom voting to leave the European Union, control of the UK’s fishing limits, and control of the fishing of the stocks within these limits, returns to the UK Parliament.
Two weeks ago, in The Shetland Times, Scottish National Party fisheries spokesman Fergus Ewing told us that the SNP would not allow the UK government to sell Scottish fishermen “down the water” as part of the Brexit negotiations. He was backed by the Shetland branch of the SNP. So far, so good.
Now comes the tricky bit. According to First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, a second Scottish independence referendum will be called if she does not like the Brexit deal (she won’t, even if it is gold plated in favour of Scotland) and it results in the people of Scotland being “dragged” out of the EU against their will.
Should the SNP win the second independence referendum, Scotland will still be outside the EU and would have to apply to join. Sturgeon, in her negotiating terms, is already quoted as saying: “Would Spanish, French and Portuguese fishermen want to be blocked from fishing the lucrative waters in Scotland’s sectors of the North Sea and West Atlantic.”
This, to me, sounds very much like the SNP is prepared to do “a Heath” and sell Scotland’s fishermen “down the water” and sacrifice them back to the mercies of the “deeply flawed” CFP.
However, Sturgeon’s assessment is totally irrelevant. If an independent Scotland is successful in gaining access to the EU – by no means a foregone conclusion – then it has to accept the terms of the Acquis Communautaire (the EU body of law) which contains the real CFP of equal access to a common resource.