By Lucy Ashton
Brexit will hit food and drink businesses very hard—but it will hit particularly hard if there is no deal, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon told the Scottish Parliament this week.
The FM, pictured right, was asked by one of her own party’s MSPs, Emma Harper, what support is being offered to food and drink businesses in Scotland to prepare for Brexit.
Ms Sturgeon said: “We are working with food and drink businesses and organisations to do everything that we can to mitigate the worst impacts.
“That includes providing guidance and support through enterprise agencies via the prepareforbrexit.scot website, and leading efforts to develop a simpler risk-based approach to providing export health certificates for seafood exporters, for example.
“However, there is no doubt that, deal or no deal, Brexit will hit food and drink businesses very hard—but it will hit particularly hard if there is no deal.
“The consequences of that for Scotland’s businesses could, and will, be devastating, with consumers also being badly affected.”
Ms Harper told her: “Last month, Scotland’s food and drink industry penned an open letter to Boris Johnson, warning of “the perilous situation facing our sector with”—at that time—“less than 60 days until the end of the Brexit transition period.”
She added: “We are now only 21 days away, and instead of pausing Brexit and extending the transition period, the Conservative Government is taking the UK head first towards a bad deal, or even no deal, in the middle of a global pandemic and economic crisis.
“Given that Scottish jobs and livelihoods that are on the line, does the First Minister agree that Boris Johnson, pictured left, and his band of Brexiteers have demonstrated that they cannot be trusted to stand up for Scotland’s interests?”
The FM replied: “To be fair, I say that I think that we knew that, before Brexit reared its head. However, the experience of the past period, particularly of the past few weeks, is that the UK Government seems to have failed to make any progress on Brexit negotiations, which certainly underlines that point.
“I could stand here and talk for a long time about the impact of Brexit on almost all sectors of our economy, but perhaps it is better to quote the director of policy of NFU Scotland, who said that with no certainty in the future trading relationship, the UK and Scottish agriculture finds itself on a cliff edge.
“That is the reality for swathes of our economy right now, so it is absolutely shameful that after all the commitments, promises and glib assurances that we have heard from Boris Johnson, we stand so close to that cliff edge.
“Let us hope that the whole UK does not go over it in the next few weeks—although I do not think that anyone who has been watching the events of the past few weeks and who saw last night’s images could have any real confidence in the UK Government, at this time.”