Brexit: ‘Scotland open for business’ with Europe

Fergus Ewing: Scotland is open for business and will continue working with colleagues across Europe

Scotland is open for business and will continue working with colleagues across Europe, Scottish rural economy secretary Fergus Ewing has said.

Ewing was attending the EU Agriculture and Fisheries Council in Luxembourg yesterday (June 27) where he met counterparts from Germany, France and Ireland as well as agriculture commissioner Phil Hogan.

He said that the EU provided significant support to rural communities and the food industry.

He also stressed that first minister Nicola Sturgeon had confirmed she would work to protect Scotland’s place in Europe and that Scotland would continue regular engagement with the EU.

The news comes as the UK voted to leave the EU last Thursday by 51.9% to 48.1%. However, Scotland overwhelmingly voted to remain in the EU.

‘Project farce’

Sturgeon accused Boris Johnson of being responsible for the start of “project farce” as the fallout continued from the Brexit vote. She made the statement after Johnson said that the tactics used by Remain, called 'project fear', was over.

Sturgeon had suffered at the hands of the ‘project fear’ approach in the run up to the Scottish referendum for independence.

However, Ewing urged other nations to understand how important the EU is for its farming and food industry.

Ewing said: "The EU provides significant support to Scottish rural communities and is a key market for the food and drink we produce.

“At Council today, I had the opportunity to stress that we are open for business and working to protect Scotland's role in the EU.

It is vital that other nations understand Scotland’s position, and just as vital for our farming and food industry that we work quickly to safeguard the links and relationships that benefit them when it comes to trade.”

UK fish meeting

Ewing also met with UK government representative Lord Gardiner to call for immediate action on a stalled monkfish swap to the west of Scotland, and for this year’s western herring catch to be at the upper limit of the sustainable level to incentivise scientific research.

In March, Scottish Food Trade Association (SFTA) president Malcolm Wilde, who is also general manager for Scotland at food logistics business Nagel Langdons – part of the Nagel Group – said that Scotland faced an issue of geography.

He highlighted that the rising cost of labour in the region meant the SFTA members were having to lift wages in order to attract and retain staff.

At the time, Wilde said members had “no strong feelings” either in favour of the UK leaving or staying in the EU.

Estimates from the latest Global Connections Survey revealed that total Scottish food and drink manufacturing exports, including whisky, soared by £3.9bn between 2002 and 2013.

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