Tomás Ó Flatharta

Looking at Things from the Left

Scottish Salmon farmers tell Boris Johnson to seal Brexit deal

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Scottish Salmon farmers tell Boris Johnson to seal Brexit deal

This Financial Times report neatly summarizes a Scottish Salmon Fishing Catastrophe created by Boris Johnson’s Brexit.

Scottish industry group says PM needs to decide whether he is on the side of business or politics

Mure Dickie, Edinburgh, December 15 2020

Mr Scott told the Financial Times that even with a deal fish farmers faced greater difficulties because of increased bureaucracy in getting shipments to the EU, which accounted for more than 64 per cent of the UK’s £250m salmon exports in the year to October.

Boris Johnson “needs to get his act together” and seal a trade deal with the EU to prevent major disruption to sales of farmed salmon, the industry group for the UK’s biggest food export said on Monday.

The comments from Tavish Scott, chief executive of the Scottish Salmon Producers Organisation, were the sector’s strongest intervention yet on Brexit and reflect rapidly deepening concern about the consequences of a no-deal end to the transition period on December 31.

Mr Scott told the Financial Times that even with a deal fish farmers faced greater difficulties because of increased bureaucracy in getting shipments to the EU, which accounted for more than 64 per cent of the UK’s £250m salmon exports in the year to October.

“Boris Johnson needs to get his act together . . . He’s got to decide what side he is on: is he on the side of business or is he on the side of politics?” Mr Scott said of the UK prime minister. “A deal is really important because the alternative is disruption to trade lasting, I think, not just weeks, but potentially a long, long time.”

The UK and Brussels on Sunday extended trade talks into this week but Downing Street said on Monday that a no-deal outcome was still the most likely.

Scottish farmed salmon was the UK’s largest food export in 2019, worth a record £618m, and the sector’s reliance on the EU market has increased this year because of a slump in sales to more distant markets, caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Mr Scott, a former Scottish transport minister and Liberal Democrat member of the parliament in Edinburgh, welcomed UK government plans to prioritise shipments of time-sensitive seafood exports across the English Channel. But he said such plans were unlikely to be enough to shield the salmon sector and wider UK economy in the event of a no-deal end to the transition period.

The boxer Mike Tyson had once said that pre-fight plans rarely survived a punch in the face, Mr Scott said, adding: “I think we will get hit in the face.”

Without a trade deal, exports of chilled whole salmon would be subject to EU tariffs of 2 per cent and those of smoked salmon to 13 per cent. But Mr Scott said a bigger worry was the potential for delays in getting fish across the Channel to EU customers.

“The really significant danger is at the pinch point that is the Channel,” he said. “With a no-deal Brexit that blockage would be appreciably worse than if there is a deal.” Freshness is a major determinant of price for premium fish and any delay to that schedule could have a dramatic impact on the value of salmon to EU customers. The Increased paperwork and tighter customs and health checks could be compounded by the potential for action by French fishermen who would lose access to UK fishing grounds.

“The really significant danger is at the pinch point that is the Channel,” he said. “With a no-deal Brexit that blockage would be appreciably worse than if there is a deal.” Freshness is a major determinant of price for premium fish and any delay to that schedule could have a dramatic impact on the value of salmon to EU customers. The Increased paperwork and tighter customs and health checks could be compounded by the potential for action by French fishermen who would lose access to UK fishing grounds.

“If there is no deal, I think it would be fair to assume that French fishermen are not going to be very happy about life,” Mr Scott said. “And French fishermen’s approach to these things may be fairly militant.”

Asked about the salmon sector’s concerns, the UK government said: “Leaving the EU means we can take advantage of the growing global demand for great British produce.”

Asked about the salmon sector’s concerns, the UK government said: “Leaving the EU means we can take advantage of the growing global demand for great British produce.”

The government was intensifying public campaigns to let businesses know “exactly what to expect”, it said.

You could not make this up! Brexit is creating havoc, undermining the British State’s grip on Scotland, Ireland and Wales. The British Labour Party leadership flounders.

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