Theresa May vows to rebuild Scottish fishing industry post Brexit

Theresa May pledged to rebuild Scotland's fishing industry as she reassured fishing communities she would not relinquish control of British waters to Europe post Brexit.

On a visit to Scotland, the Prime Minister said Brexit would see the UK become an “independent coastal state” which would determine access to its waters.

Mrs May gave the reassurance as she conducted a whistle-stop tour of the four nations of the UK to make a year until EU withdrawal.

She began the day with a trip to Ayrshire textile manufacturer Alex Begg where she was questioned about the future of the fishing industry.

Prime Minister Theresa May visits textile producers Alex Begg in Ayrshire, during a tour of the four nations of the UK. Pic: PA Wire

The Scottish fishing industry has long objected to the EU’s Common Fishing Policy (CFP), which results in more than half of fish caught in British waters landed by trawlers from elsewhere in the EU.

Speaking to the BBC, the Prime Minister said: “I was very pleased yesterday to meet representatives of the Scottish fishing industry and to hear from them directly what they want to see in terms of our fishing once we have become that independent coastal state which we will become at the end of the implementation period.

“So when we are out of the European Union, at the end of that implementation period, it will be the UK that will be determining access to our waters. So I was very pleased to hear directly from the Scottish fishing industry what their interests and what their hopes for the future are.

“As a UK government we are very clear that we want to see the fishing industry across the UK, in Scotland and elsewhere, enhanced. We want to rebuild that industry for the future. That’s our aim and that’s what we will be talking to the fishing industry here in Scotland.”

Prime Minister Theresa May visits textile producers Alex Begg in Ayrshire, during a tour of the four nations of the UK. Pic: PA Wire

The Prime Minister’s pledge followed anger that the UK’s transition deal with the EU, signed by the Prime Minister, delayed a promise to leave the CFP in 2019 by a year.

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FMQs: Nicola Sturgeon attacks EU's Common Fisheries Policy

Her intervention was a prelude to a stormy exchange at First Minister’s Questions at Holyrood where Nicola Sturgeon came under fire for the SNP’s CFP position. The First Minister was challenged on the issue by Green co-convener Patrick Harvie.

Mr Harvie said that if it not been for the CFP there would be no cod left in the sea or in the shopes.

“Surely the Scottish Government must accept that whether we are in or out of the European Union that shared approach to a shared environmental resource will always be necessary,” Mr Harvie said.

Ms Sturgeon replied saying the CFP was “unfair” to Scottish fishermen.

She said: “I’m on record, my party is on record... I think it was back in 2004 that a SNP MP introduced a member’s bill in the House of Commons to try to argue that we should come out of the Common Fisheries Policy.

“The Common Fisheries Policy, even taking account of the points that Patrick Harvie makes, is not fair to Scottish fishermen. That’s why I don’t support it.”

Her opponents attacked her position arguing that rejecting the CFP was incompatible with the SNP’s desire for Scotland to retain EU membership. Members of the EU are required to sign up to the CFP.

Scottish Conservative deputy leader Jackson Carlaw said: “This is a classic example of the SNP trying to have its cake and eating it. You cannot be aggressively pro EU and not factor in the CFP – it’s simply impossible. After leaving Ayrshire, Mrs May spent the rest of her day in Newcastle, Belfast, south Wales and London.