Brexit fishing row ‘will boost Sturgeon’s Scottish independence bid’

Brexit: Iain Dale says he 'increasingly' feels there will be no deal

Prime Minister Boris Johnson warned yesterday that there is a “strong possibility” of a no deal as trade talks between the UK and the EU show little sign of progress. With the deadline for a deal now set for Sunday, time is running out to secure a trading arrangement. But sticking points on trading standards and fishing still remain despite Mr Johnson’s meeting with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen this week. The Government is trying to balance the need for a trading relationship with the EU and promises of sovereignty made to Brexit voters.

But, as Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon gains more momentum in her drive for independence, Mr Johnson has been warned that a perceived failure to deliver on his Brexit promises could further hurt England-Scotland relations.

Financial Times analysis earlier this month highlighted that if Mr Johnson fails to “stand up for Scottish coastal communities”, fishermen in the country would be furious.

However, a no deal Brexit also risks more broad discontent in Scotland, where over 60 percent of people voted Remain in 2016.

Reports this week suggest that Scottish fishermen could end up registering their boats in Northern Ireland to ensure they keep access to the EU economy, where the UK sells most of its fish.

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Bertie Armstrong, the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation’s Chief Executive, said earlier this year that Brexit would provide an opportunity for Scottish fishermen.

He said: “We should not imagine that Brexit will simply slam the EU markets shut – trade is a two way thing, we will continue to produce the world-class products and people will continue to want them.”

Mr Armstrong added that the opportunities for the Scottish fishing industry are “overwhelmingly positive”, but admitted there would be “challenges”.

He continued: “The restoration of our stewardship under international law of the best fishing grounds in the world – our Exclusive Economic Zone – brings the potential to be a world-leading force in sustainable harvesting and marketing of seafood.

“Anxiety is understood, but it must not cause us to lower our heads and lose sight of the grand prize.”

However, while some Scottish fishermen have hope for Brexit, it is clear that the UK’s departure from the EU is only accelerating the Scottish National Party (SNP)’s independence drive.

Polling this year has put a Yes vote consistently ahead, with some even showing a reversal of the 2014 result, in which 55 percent of Scots voted to stay in the union.

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Senior MEP, Philippe Lamberts, told this month that Prime Minister Johnson is to blame for the growth in support for independence.

The Co-President of the European Greens said: “It is as a result of Brexit and the power grab by Boris Johnson of devolved powers in Scotland during the Brexit process that the UK will lose Scotland.

“Scotland will rejoin the EU sooner than many think, weakening the position of the UK.

“Brexiteers are not defenders of the union, they are English nationalists, they dropped Northern Ireland like a brick and Boris Johnson doesn’t care for Wales or Scotland either.”

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