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In the EU referendum the main leave campaign suggested strongly that a Brexit vote would ensure fishermen from other EU states would be expelled from UK waters.
Yet the Tories’ White Paper on Brexit suggests no such thing. Instead it says: ‘Given the heavy reliance on UK waters of the EU fishing industry and the importance of EU waters to the UK, it is in both our interests to reach a mutually beneficial deal that works for the UK and the EU’s fishing communities.’
Such weasel words are a reminder that, when the then Tory government took the UK into the common fisheries policy in the 1970s, an internal Scottish Office paper said that ‘in the wider UK context they [the fishermen] must be regarded as expendable’ and that officials estimated that up to half the fishermen in Scottish waters – then 4,000 men – could lose their jobs.
That position of the UK government suggests that just as the UK government sold out Scottish fishermen going into Europe, they will use them as a bargaining chip to leave, perhaps to get other EU states’ support to lobby for the banks in the City of London to still have free access to the EU market.
Any votes the Tories get in May this year at the local election in Scotland’s fishing communities will be used by them to claim they have the endorsement from those communities to implement that weasely-worded paragraph. Just as with so many other issues, the Tories will take it as a sign that they can do what they like to Scotland and get away with it again.
Dealbhadh Croite, by Benderloch.