The UK Government was last night urged to explain how it intends to give Aberdeen “free port” status.
Aberdeen Central MSP Kevin Stewart, of the SNP, called for ministers to clarify how the plan would work after it emerged International Trade Secretary Liz Truss had discussed the proposal.
Mr Stewart was reacting to a tweet from Aberdeen South Conservative MP Ross Thomson, which revealed he had been talking to Ms Truss about making the Granite City a free port after Brexit.
Sources close to Boris Johnson have indicated the prime minister is considering plans to make Aberdeen or Peterhead a free port.
A free port is a zone within a country that is treated, for customs purposes, as an independent jurisdiction.
Under the arrangement, goods can be manufactured, imported and exported in the zone without running into trade barriers such as tariffs and customs duties.
Yesterday Mr Thomson tweeted a picture of himself with Ms Truss saying it was “great to catch up” with her to discuss the proposal.
He said: “The city is perfectly positioned to bid to be a free port.”
But Mr Stewart said there was an “astonishing” lack of detail on the plan.
Mr Stewart said: “As a Trust Port, Aberdeen Harbour is an entirely independent statutory body that reinvests any ‘profits’ that it makes back into the port itself.
“The Tories need to therefore clarify how exactly they intend to entirely alter the operation of what is an independent body. The chronic lack of detail is astonishing but hardly surprising.
“Ultimately, Aberdeen is projected to be the hardest-hit city in the entire UK as a result of a no-deal Brexit and the last thing anyone in our city needs is uncertainty over the future of one of our greatest assets.”
Mr Thomson accused Mr Stewart of a “typically negative response”.
He said: “I am meeting the Secretary of State to discuss the detail of this plan. I have already discussed this with the harbour board, who are interested, and the local council, who are also keen.
“If the MSP for Aberdeen Central wants to get involved, I would be happy to help set up a meeting for him too.”