Liberal Democrat Scottish Affairs spokesperson and North East Fife MSP Wendy Chamberlain has today warned that Boris Johnson’s Brexit policy is taking a scythe to the food and drink sector and called for him to seek a fresh grace period on post-Brexit trading arrangements to support Scottish produce.
Addressing this morning’s Scottish Affairs committee, Jimmy Buchan, chief executive at the Scottish Seafood Association, told the meeting, “This is not teething problems, these are issues that we need to sit down with the Government, and they need to sit down with the EU Commission, and sort these things out.”
James Withers, chief executive at Scottish Food and Drink, told MPs: “We have ended up with a trading regime that has become complex, costly, slow, prone to break down at its best.” He went on to say: “We’ve had a dreadful first few weeks of trading in a post-Brexit world, there’s no way of sugar-coating it… I think the biggest single challenge we have just now is denial. I think it is denial, from the UK Government in particular, of the scale of the problem.”
Commenting after the meeting Ms Chamberlain said:
“Scottish produce is world renowned but it will not stay that way if it cannot get out of the country.
“Boris Johnson is taking a scythe to the food and drink sector with the costly and confusing trading regime he has imposed. The system has been close to collapse and that’s even before the inevitable seasonal and post-covid increases in volume that producers expect to see.
“The economic hit has already been enormous. If Scotland is to recover from the pandemic we need every sector running at full capacity. The Prime Minister should listen to food and drink representatives, urgently engage with the EU and seek a fresh grace period for Scottish produce exporters.”