Brexit assurances sought

Matheson urges ‘no deal’ priority for seafood exports

Scottish seafood, langoustineScottish Transport Secretary Michael Matheson is demanding his UK counterpart ensures Scotland’s perishable goods, such as seafoods, are given a priority in reaching European markets if there is no deal with the EU.

Mr Matheson has written to Chris Grayling urging access to the additional ferry capacity secured by the UK Government when it is not being used to transport essential supplies.

In his letter, Mr Matheson highlights his concern that the Department for Transport has failed to take action despite the concerns being raised in previous correspondence from the Scottish Government. Mr Matheson said a no deal exit would have serious consequences for Scotland’s exports and wider economy.

“With an annual value of £944 million, seafood accounts for 58% of Scotland’s total food exports,” he said.  “Seafood is highly perishable and therefore dependent on the sort of swift and reliable transport connections which would be damaged by a disorderly UK exit from the EU.

“The Scottish Government has, on a number of occasions, sought to have seafood and other time critical exports prioritised through Kent and Dover. We have also asked that these exports are given priority access to the additional ferry capacity secured by the UK Government where this is not required for essential supplies. So far, these requests have been refused.

“This lack of support for exporting businesses, which threatens the livelihoods of many in Scotland especially in our more remote and rural communities, is of great concern to us and to the industries affected.

“The current situation, which puts at risk jobs and livelihoods, is simply not acceptable. I am asking the UK Government to look again at the issues of prioritisation, and more generally at what assurance they can give businesses that their critical routes to market will be maintained in the event of a no deal.”

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