If we needed any more indication that the business of the UK exiting the European Union and how that will affect Scotland was going to be a difficult and complex affair, we got it yesterday.
Opening the annual National Economic Forum in Edinburgh, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon emphasised her intention to bring forward specific proposals for a “flexible Brexit” that would keep Scotland in the single market. The current narrative is that the best interests of Scotland lie with remaining in the single market, even although there is little idea of what the alternative would be at this stage. Perhaps with the hold-ups over the EU and Canada trade deal it is best to act on the basis that the only alternative to the single market is years of protracted and possibly pointless negotiation.
Ms Sturgeon said that she believed it was possible for a deal to keep the UK in the single market, because “that outcome is in the best interests of everyone in these islands”.
Not according to Scotland’s fishing industry. The pro-Brexit Scottish Fishermen’s Federation chose yesterday to step up and say that control over British waters would bring huge potential benefits to Scottish fishing, and chief executive Bertie Armstrong said the UK’s exit from the EU represented a “sea of opportunity”.
They produced statistics which said that research by the North Atlantic Fisheries College said only 42 per cent of fish caught in these waters between 2012 and 2014 were landed by British fishermen.
Quite how remaining in the single market and also taking complete control of our seas to the detriment of the European boats can be achieved will be a test of the negotiations.