There is “no confusion” over the SNP’s fishing policy, Nicola Sturgeon has insisted.
Political opponents seized on the decision by MPs Eilidh Whiteford and Angus MP Mike Weir to sign a Scottish Fishermen’s Federation pledge to ditch the Common Fisheries Policy – claiming it was out of step with the party’s desire to keep Scotland in the EU.
But the first minister said nationalists had long called for the policy to be scrapped or reformed.
“There is no confusion within the party,” she said.
“There may be confusion on the part of our opponents.
“The SNP’s position has been either scrapping or fundamental reform of the CFP so they are not doing anything that is inconsistent with the position the SNP has had for a long time.”
She accused Tories of being “fundamentally dishonest” on the issue and said the Brexit White Paper “makes it clear they want to use fishing waters as bargaining chips.”
And she said an independent Scotland in the EU would wield considerable “clout” on the issue in Brussels.
“Some 40% of EU catch is in Scottish waters so Scotland would be one of the most powerful countries in the EU in terms of fishing. One of the big constraints we’ve had over the years is that we don’t have that seat in our own right where the decisions are taken.
“Our position is, and has been, totally consistent on the CFP and we will always stand up for the best interests of Scottish fishing and I think the Tories should stop trying to pull the wool over the eyes of fishermen.”