SNP MPs have been accused of “hypocrisy” on Europe after signing a pledge that would protect fishermen by keeping Scotland out of the EU.
Politicians including Banff and Buchan MP Eilidh Whiteford and the party’s chief whip Mike Weir backed a campaign to keep the country free of Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) rules.
The SNP has long been sceptical of the CFP, which gives all European fishing fleets equal access to EU waters and fishing grounds, but its official position is for an independent Scotland to be part of the EU.
Scottish Conservative MSP Murdo Fraser said: “The nationalists can’t have it both ways – if you’re in the EU, you have to be in the CFP too.
“It underlines the hypocrisy at the heart of the SNP when it comes to Brexit matters.”
The pledge, drafted by the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation (SFF), says: “We must avoid any policy, practice, regulation or treaty which could return us to the Common Fisheries Policy and the enforced giveaway of almost two-thirds of our fish stocks.”
Scottish Secretary David Mundell also signed it, in so doing committing the UK Government to protecting fishermen’s rights, which opponents have claimed could be negotiated away in Brexit talks.
He said: “I was delighted to sign this pledge, the UK is leaving the CFP, we will regain control of our fishing and I look forward to working with the industry to turn the sea of opportunity into a reality.”
Ms Whiteford insisted her party “has always been consistent” in its opposition to the CFP.
She added: “It’s absolutely critically important the fishing industry is not sold out on the way out of the EU as it was on the way in.
“If we leave the single market as well as the EU, then we create some real challenges for those parts of the industry that export to EU countries and to other parts of the world via EU trade agreements.”
SFF chief executive Bertie Armstrong said: “The whole industry, from those who go to sea through the processors to the hauliers, is united behind one simple aim – our coming out of the EU and the CFP.”
An SNP spokesperson said: “The SNP will always stand up for Scotland’s industries and are committed to making sure that when it comes to Scotland’s fisheries we have a seat at the top table rather than relying on the Tories – who described Scotland’s fishing industry as “expendable”.