Farmers will feel 'betrayed' over a no-deal Brexit, says Highland MSP
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A HIGHLANDS and Islands MSP has said that farmers will feel “betrayed” if a no-deal Brexit goes ahead.
The SNP's Maree Todd was speaking after the UK Government announced plans to remove import tariffs in the event of a no deal – a move that she says would put home-grown produce at a serious disadvantage.
More than half of all Scottish goods exports were sent to Europe in the last quarter, but leaving without a deal would mean facing the EU’s common external tariff – with tariffs of around 84 per cent on Scotch beef, 53 per cent on wheat, 48 per cent on Scotch lamb and 30 per cent on pork.
Ms Todd said: “Highlands and Islands farmers will quite rightly feel betrayed by the conscious decision of this Tory government to sell out Scottish produce.
“Almost half of our exports go to Europe, so a no-deal Brexit would be seriously damaging for Scottish businesses, jobs and the economy.
“With tariffs of up to 84 per cent on our world-renowned Scotch beef or almost 50 per cent on Scotch lamb, it’s no exaggeration to say that a no deal will devastate key sectors of our local economy.
“The SNP has consistently called for Scotland to remain in the EU so that we can maintain free trade, with no tariffs or other barriers that we currently benefit from within Europe’s single market.”
NFU Scotland president Andrew McCornick said: “It is hugely disappointing that, since the damaging tariff schedule was first published in March, repeated warnings from NFUS and fellow farming unions have been ignored and the Government has opted to persist with a schedule that, in the event of a no deal, will hammer many sectors of Scottish agriculture.
“Setting a low or zero tariff rate on the importation of key agricultural products, like cereals, eggs, pork, fruit and veg and some dairy produce, will place many of our farmers at a significant disadvantage and undermine any efforts to negotiate new trade arrangements.
“Exports of Scottish produce like lamb and beef to the EU face the prospect of crippling tariffs as we are forced to operate to WTO [World Trade Organisation] rules.
"When we have the ambition to double the size of the farming, food and drink industry in Scotland to £30 billion, the tariff schedule, as proposed by the Government, would place that ambition in jeopardy.”
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