Boris Johnson’s Hard Brexit has been disastrous for the Scottish fishing industry, now fighting for survival.
Red tape and chaotic delays at the border are costing companies millions of pounds in lost sales.
Firms estimate that since the beginning of the year the cost of extra paperwork, export certificates and Covid tests for lorry drivers have added hundreds of pounds to the cost of every shipment.
And the resulting delays have stopped fish getting to the big markets on time. That’s a catastrophe for an industry which markets itself on the freshness of its products.
The fishing port of Peterhead has seen an 18% drop in the volume of fish landed since the start of the year and its fish market has been described as looking like a ”ghost town”.
Langoustines, worth £80m a year to the UK economy, have been among the worst produce hit. One third of the world’s landings are on Scotland’s shores, most destined for markets in France and Spain. But they have to reach the markets within 24 hours and because of the Brexit chaos that can now take up to three days.
As the fishing industries’ losses mount the UK government’s offer of compensation has fallen far short of what is needed.
Boris Johnson has offered a package of just £23m, which the trade organisation Scotland Food and Drink has said will not fill the gap and needs to go further.
Desperate export films staged a lorry protest in London in January to express their anger. Their message, written on one of the lorries, was clear: ‘‘Incompetent government destroying shellfish Industry”.
Boris Johnson and his government were all too aware that leaving the EU without a proper deal would be disastrous, yet they pressed ahead regardless. And when the reality turned out to be even worse they turned a blind eye to an unfolding tragedy which threatens the future of one of Scotland’s most important industries. Westminster simply can’t be trusted with our economic future.
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