Rural and Environment
The EU has been a good friend to rural Scotland
For the whole of the Scottish Parliament’s lifetime, the rural economy has benefitted from our membership.
Over the years, our engagement with it has allowed Scotland to push our case on everything from agriculture and fisheries policy reform, to fishing quotas and forestry. Scotland has had a voice in the room – a room we will no longer be able to enter.
Whatever trade deal the UK Government secures – if it gets a deal – will leave Scotland significantly worse off compared to what we currently enjoy through membership of the world’s biggest single market.
Research has shown that all sectors of the Scottish rural economy would be negatively affected with farming, fishing and food production worst hit.
We believe a basic free trade agreement with the EU, will hit jobs and investment and cost us around £9 billion – £1,600 per head.
Anecdotal evidence already suggests that many of the 237,000 EU citizens in Scotland are leaving, with many parts of the rural economy, such as the fruit and vegetable sector and fish processors struggling to keep and recruit workers. We simply cannot afford to lose these people and their expertise from rural Scotland.
Under the CAP alone, we receive around £500 million from Europe for our rural economy – money guaranteed for a five-year period.
Now, we will be at the whim of the UK Government who are only offering a year-by-year guarantee. To make it worse, we still don’t know whether funding will be available for tree-planting or schemes that help protect and enhance our natural environment.
Leaving the EU also has massive implications for our £15 billion food and drink sector, many of whom are based in rural communicates. The loss of frictionless free trade will create barriers where there are currently none, hurting our exporters of salmon and scallops, for example, through delays and disruptions. This could hit businesses, with jobs and livelihoods potentially affected across rural Scotland.
By not being in the room we put at risk so much of what we have fought so hard for and won over the last 40 years.
Since Brexit began, the UK Government has routinely ignored devolved conventions and the wishes and concerns of the devolved governments and parliaments. We have seen nothing to suggest that this attitude will change which is why Scotland must be able to choose its own future.