Nicola Sturgeon accuses UK Government of 'shutting out' Scotland in Australia trade deal

Nicola Sturgeon has accused the UK Government of being “determined to shut” the Scottish Government out of discussions around the potential trade deal with Australia.

Answering a question at First Minister’s Questions in Holyrood, the SNP leader said the Scottish Government was “extremely concerned” the trade deal could go against the “interests of people who live here”.

The First Minister also said it could see the Conservatives “betray” Scottish farmers.

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First Minister Nicola Sturgeon during First Minister's Questions at the Scottish Parliament in Holyrood, Edinburgh. Picture: PA

Jim Fairlie, SNP MSP for Perthshire South, labelled the Scottish Conservative leader a “new-born calf” during the question-and-answer session.

He said: "Douglas Ross actually wrote to all the farmers in my constituency four days after my nomination telling them that he was going to be the farmers’ champion here in Scotland and I’m just wondering if this is going to be one of those red lines he’s going to gayly skip over like a new-born calf.

"Would the FM agree with me that this would be a total betrayal of Scotland’s farmers as it has been with the fisherman?"

Responding, Ms Sturgeon said the Scottish Government demands on the trade deal include any food being produced to Scottish standards and for a tariff rate quota approach to imports.

She said "Douglas Ross seems intent on telling Jim Fairlie for some reason best known to him that he is a lamb, not a calf, but I think the general point stands that nobody on the Tory benches seems willing to stand up for the interests of Scottish farmers.

"This is a Tory party, of course, that has already betrayed Scotland’s fishing communities and it now seems to be about to betray Scotland’s farming communities.”

The proposed deal with Canberra will offer tariff and quota-free trade between the two countries, UK international trade secretary Liz Truss has said.

Speaking on LBC this week, Ms Truss said the deal was the same agreement the UK had with the EU before Brexit, adding: “What we are talking about is, in the long term – so this is not going to happen quickly, there will be a very long transition period – allowing Australia the same kind of access the EU already has.”

But farmers, backed by UK environment secretary George Eustice, fear they could be wiped out if there is a complete liberalisation of trade.

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