“Scottish Secretary supposed to be standing up for Scotland”
This morning in the House of Commons, I once again raised the issue of the impact of the new free trade deal with Australia that could see Scotland and the rest of the UK flooded with cheap beef, lamb and dairy products to the huge detriment of our own producers.
Last week I asked the International Trade Secretary if she felt this deal was the “golden opportunity” Boris Johnson promised our farmers. She steadfastly refused to answer, so today I asked the Secretary of State for Scotland, Alister Jack MP, if he could answer that question. As you will see from the video clip, he does not take the concerns of Scotland’s food and drink industry seriously and seems dismissive of concerns voiced across the sector.
It is incredulous that the UK Government, which is putting so many resources into saving the union, would rather sign a trade deal – any deal – even if this could damage our industries and put thousands of jobs at risk. If they are so confident there is industry backing for it they should’ve put the deal to a vote. They did not.
The Scottish Secretary is supposed to be standing up for Scotland but, instead, all he has done is cover for his Westminster masters, telling me the trade deal will be as good for producers here as it will be for those in Australia.
This was my question to him:
“This government’s plan to strengthen the union seems to be to first, sell-out the fishing industry and then, betray Scotland’s farmers.
So can the Secretary of State explain how the Australian trade deal which allows the UK market to be flooded with thousands of tonnes of cheap, factory-farmed, inferior-qulaity beef and lamb, is the “Golden Opportunity” the Prime Minister promised, and how will it help Scottish farmers business?”
It is clear that the Scottish Tories have no intention of standing up for Scotland.
Just days ago, in a BBC Sunday Show interview Douglas Ross – an MSP as well as an MP – repeatedly dodged questions and gave misleading answers when asked about the impact of the Australia trade deal on Scotland’s farmers and crofters.
When challenged by presenter Martin Geissler “why was there no dialogue between the UK and Scottish Government?” – Douglas Ross dodged the question.
When challenged about the concerns of Scotland’s farming communities on tariff-free imports, the Scottish Tory leader claimed, “I can understand concerns have been highlighted but I’m not sure we will see them coming to fruition”.
When challenged on the threat of zero-tariff deals with the USA, Brazil and other countries, Mr Ross claimed “they are very separate deals… we have said there is no precedent in any of these deals, we go about them on an individual basis”.
My colleague, SNP Environment, Food and Rural Affairs spokesperson, Deidre Brock MP said afterwards:
“Yet again, Douglas Ross is failing to stand up for Scotland over the damaging Tory Australia trade deal, which poses a growing threat to Scottish farmers and crofters.
“It speaks volumes that the Scottish Tory leader was unable to name any benefits for Scottish beef and lamb farmers – who face being undercut on price and standards, and left unable to compete with industrial-scale farming abroad.
“Scotland has been sidelined, ignored and kept in the dark throughout these negotiations. No meaningful protections have been introduced for Scottish farmers and crofters, who are being completely shafted – just as the Tories sold out Scotland’s fishing communities through Brexit.
“There is the very real danger that many Scottish farmers and crofters will lose income and be put out of business, with agricultural workers losing their jobs, if the Australia deal goes ahead in its current form – especially if it is replicated in future deals with the USA, Brazil and other industrial farming countries that will also demand tariff-free access to the UK.
“It’s simply not credible for Douglas Ross to claim that no precedent has been set for future trade deals – when it clearly has. It’s clear the Scottish Tories will roll over and rubber stamp any Downing Street deal, no matter how damaging it is for Scotland.
“Scotland is increasingly vulnerable under Westminster control. It’s clearer than ever that the only way to keep Scotland safe from the long-term damage of Brexit and Tory trade deals is to become an independent country.”