FMQs: Tories 'exploiting' independence to avoid Brexit questions

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon faced questions over fishing
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon faced questions over fishing
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First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has been accused of seeking to undermine the UK’s Brexit deal because of her “obsession” with a second independence referendum.

During exchanges on the future of Scotland’s fishing industry at First Minister’s Questions, interim Conservative leader Jackson Carlaw said the SNP wanted to “drag” fishermen back into the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) by staying in the European Union.

The First Minister said her party would vote against Prime Minister Theresa May’s deal next month because it will “sell out” Scottish fishermen.

Ms Sturgeon said: “The Tories raising fishing today is something of an early Christmas present. Jackson Carlaw’s attack on me appears to be because I continue to believe in membership of the European Union. The strange thing about that attack is so does Jackson Carlaw and so does Ruth Davidson.

“SNP MPs on December 11 will vote against the Tory deal that sells out Scottish fishermen because we know Tory pledges on fishing are not worth the paper they’re written on.”

She added: “The Tories, just as they did on the way into the European Union, are selling Scottish fishermen on the way out.”

Jackson Carlaw said the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation backed the Prime Minister’s position and the political declaration published last week which set out plans for the UK to become “an independent coastal state”.

“Is the First Minister seriously trying to tell us she knows more about fish than the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation?” Mr Carlaw asked.

“She’s trapped by her own policy on Europe. The plain fact is that for all their posturing and pompous outrage, the SNP’s policy is to rejoin the EU and therefore, because there is no way round this, to rejoin the Common Fisheries Policy.

“They accuse Theresa May of selling out over fishing but it is they would would drag us straight back into the CFP. She says vote down the deal, meaning more chaos and more upheaval, all in the hope that it will deliver her obsession with a second independence referendum. That’s not in Scotland’s interests, that’s not standing up for Scotland.”

Ms Sturgeon responded: “Jackson Carlaw talks about the SNP using Brexit to advance the case for independence. Brexit does that all by itself, it doesn’t need any help from the SNP.
“The opposite is true – they’re exploiting independence to avoid hard questions on Brexit.”