Fergus Ewing fails to get Brexit response from London

Fergus Ewing's letter remains unanswered. Picture: John Devlin
Fergus Ewing's letter remains unanswered. Picture: John Devlin
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The political bidding post-Brexit continued yesterday but the pleas only confirmed ambitions – they did little in the way of providing clarity on what support farming will get and what it would be in life outside the EU.

The four farming unions from Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland combined to stress they wanted all devolved governments to guarantee that Treasury funds were targeted on food production and farming.

Against a backdrop of intense competition for public spending after the vote, NFU Scotland president Allan Bowie referred to comments made by Chancellor of the Exchequer Phillip Hammond where he indicated he wanted the devolved governments to use the money for agriculture.

However Scottish Government cabinet secretary for the rural economy Fergus Ewing called for the EU funding guarantee provided by the UK government to be extended to cover the outstanding £360 million for the rural economy.

READ MORE: Trade deals are key to rural security after Brexit

In a letter to UK secretary of state Andrea Leadsom, Ewing said: “While the guarantees offered by the UK government helped to remove some uncertainty for our farmers and fishermen, it’s clear that it simply does not go far enough.

“EU funds provide significant benefits to the rural economy, creating and sustaining jobs often in areas where circumstances are challenging. They are a critical support mechanism for the agricultural and fishing industries.”

However, it emerged that a previous letter from Ewing to the UK Department of the Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) was still awaiting a response – more than five weeks later. A Scottish Government spokeswoman confirmed Ewing had written to Leadsom about common agricultural policy convergence on 27 June but “no response has been received”.

This angered former NFUS president John Cameron who said it was “not good enough”. He added: “We had assurances this would be dealt with two or three months ago and they should be honoured.”

It was also revealed that Ewing had written to Leadsom congratulating her on her new role but he had not yet met any Defra ministers since their appointments last month.

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