An independent Scotland would not rejoin the EU if it meant a bad deal for the country’s fishing sector, a Nationalist MSP has said.
Glasgow Shettleston MSP John Mason warned this would be a “red line” for the SNP and indicates a shift in policy from the previous commitment to rejoin the Brussels bloc.
It comes after a huge row over claims of a Tory “sell-out” of the Scots fishing fleet in the Brexit Transition deal agreed this week. This commits the UK to remain in the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) for two years after the UK leaves the Brussels bloc. It means Scotland’s rich waters must remain open to fleets from Spain, France and elsewhere in the EU.
Mr Mason said on Twitter: “Scotland would not rejoin EU if we did not get a good deal for our fishing sector.
“That would be a red line, deal breaker.
“By contrast, fishing is not important for Westminster, so they have and will bargain fishing rights against higher priorities like Gibraltar.”
The transition deal has been portrayed by the SNP as a betrayal of the Scots fishing fleet by the UK Government, with many fishermen backing Brexit on the basis that it would involve leaving the CFP.
An SNP spokesperson said: “This week’s Tory betrayal of Scottish fishing means the UK will be bound by CFP rules, but with no seat at the table in negotiations, no influence in reforms and no say in quotas it’s an absolute disgrace.
“We have been long-standing critics of the CFP and believe it should be scrapped or fundamentally reformed.
“The SNP believes that the best way to build a fairer, more prosperous Scotland is to be a full independent member of the EU. Failing that, it is our view that staying in the single market is the least worst option for our economy.”
The issue was raised at First Minister Questions in Holyrood today where Nationalist Banff and Buchan MSP Stewart Stevenson said there was widespread “anger” among fishing communities over the issue.
Ms Sturgeon said: “What we have seen this week is a broken promise and a complete betrayal by the Scottish Tories of the Scottish fishing industry.
“It is disgraceful. It’s only a week or so ago that Ruth Davidson was issuing press releases co-authored with Michael Gove of all people, saying that the fishing community would be free of the Common Fisheries Policy by March next year.
“Now we find out that we will still be governed by the Common Fisheries Policy, but to add insult to injury, there will be no vote around the table for the Scottish fishing community.
“It is utterly disgraceful.”