Jimmy Buchan: Embrace Brexit for the sake of fishing industry

Peterhead veteran Jimmy Buchan aboard the trawler Amity II. Picture: Contributed
Peterhead veteran Jimmy Buchan aboard the trawler Amity II. Picture: Contributed
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It’s time for a change and the UK is leading the way, writes Jimmy Buchan

Given the current circus engulfing British politics, maybe I should have another go at entering the political ring?

It’s about working cohesively and productively with the EU. It’s time for change and the UK is leading the charge

All arguing aside, the country has made a choice. It’s a fast-moving situation as we all know with new political shockers hitting the news wires on an hourly basis.

The First Minister has certainly done well over the past week to make sure she was in there good and early with a strong message that Scotland doesn’t want to be dragged out of the EU against its will. I applaud her media-savvy team on this, but what she’s guilty of forgetting is that Scotland is still in the UK, and regardless of the majority, a huge number of Scots want to leave. The UK made a decision as part of our democratic society which we should accept.

My fishing industry colleagues and I don’t want a situation where we’re being dragged back into the EU against our will. Ms Sturgeon should concentrate on working with the UK government rather than against it.

We’ll soon have a new Prime Minister and he or she must be pro-Brexit. They may well see an opportunity to attack the opposition when it’s at its weakest but they should harness the current fluidity of British politics and use this to help drive the road toward a new future. In the past 10 days the public has already lost huge faith in their political leaders but this is an opportunity for new leadership to act quickly and decisively for the best will of the country.

As a pro-Brexit voter it’s easy for me to say we should just accept the decision. I’m well aware of the millions of people who voted to remain and I appreciate their arguments and understand their anger.

I started a career in the fishing industry over 40 years ago and in that time there have been huge changes. I have witnessed colleagues and friends forced out of business and lose their livelihoods, all under EU governance.

Although I’ve enjoyed good and bad years, I cannot console myself that the current EU treaties work in my best interests or ever did when I have witnessed what fishing communities right around the UK have had to endure. I’m also well aware that other industries have also endured economic hardship because of EU powerhouse decisions.

We need to stop the political mud slinging and look to the future which, no matter how you look at it, is going to be different. We must have a strong Brexit-focused team which can work with the EU on negotiating our exit. Whoever leads the negotiations must passionately believe in the cause and be focused on getting the UK the best deal possible.

Scotland is already known worldwide for its food and drink. In my opinion, Brexit will only help us grow our reputation further by securing fair trade agreements which benefit us and our fishing industry in a way we haven’t seen before. We have never had an opportunity like this and we should seize it with both hands.

It’s not about walking away, it’s about working cohesively and productively with the EU. It’s time for change and the UK is leading the charge.

Our coastal communities have suffered as a direct result of the UK being in the European Union.

It’s clear we’re a divided country in terms of our politics but I’m sure we all agree it’s time to stop the erosion of coastal communities and support the fishing industry which contributes so much to the economy.

The hard part is still to come, and if the past week has been anything to go by, the next several years will be anything but smooth. However, only with strong leadership and cross-party unity can we sail our ship in the right direction and create a fairer, more collaborative relationship with Europe.

• Jimmy Buchan is a Peterhead fisherman with over 40 years’ experience. He starred in BBC’s Bafta award-winning series Trawlermen and sits on the board of the Scottish Fishermen’s Organisation. He was made an Ambassador of Aberdeenshire in 2013.