Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross has denied the most his party can offer north-east fishermen is “compensation for their losses” and pledged to “resolve the issues” preventing some produce from being exported.
The Moray MP launched an ad van campaign in Glasgow on Wednesday, accusing the SNP of ‘taking their eye off the ball’ on a raft of domestic policies.
But asked about his party’s own broken promises on the fishing sector post-Brexit, Mr Ross denied compensation is the best the Tories could offer but admitted more has to be done to resolve ongoing issues.
Mr Ross also told journalists that more than 100,000 jobs in the north-east oil and gas sector will be “put at risk” if the Scottish Greens “have any influence or power” over the SNP in the next parliament.
It comes after Scottish Green co-leader Patrick Harvie called for an end to North Sea oil and gas production in the next decade.
On fishing, Mr Ross said: “I’ve said we have to compensate for the losses that have been experienced but we have to resolve the issues that are preventing some of our produce being exported.
“Now we’ve come some way since January, we’ve come some way in terms of opening up some of the markets or some of the access to the markets that were proving problematic but there is more we have to do.
“However, in terms of what was delivered through the deal, what we have is, over the next five years, more and more quota coming back to Scottish fishermen and, at the end of the five-year period, the full rights over who catches what, where and when.”
Mr Ross said that would be “put under threat” by the SNP, who want to rejoin the EU and “hand back all this quota to the EU that we have successfully taken back since our exit”.
He added: “That would have to be renegotiated again with the EU within the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), which the SNP have said themselves is not ideal.
“I think it is absolutely the worst thing for our fishing communities to be taken back into the CFP after they’ve fought for over four decades to come out of it.”
‘Pushed to the brink’
However, SNP candidate for Banffshire and Buchan Coast, Karen Adam, said Scotland’s fishing communities are “paying a heavy price for the litany of broken promises peddled by the Tories and their rotten Brexit deal – and Douglas Ross is culpable given he backed Boris Johnson and voted in favour of his deal”.
She added: “The measures brought forward by the Tory government are not even a drop in the ocean compared to what is desperately needed to support our fishing sector, with the deal leaving the sector worse off than when we were part of the European Union.
“Our fishing communities – who have been pushed to the brink due to the impact of Covid and Brexit – need real support now, not further insulting rhetoric from Douglas Ross attempting to shift the focus away from the Tories’ broken promises.”
Boris Johnson no-show
Mr Johnson previously insisted “wild horses won’t keep me away” but has made no visits to Scotland since his controversial trip north of the border in January, at the height of the coronavirus pandemic.
Mr Ross, who has faced repeated questions over any potential visit, said he and Mr Johnson have kept “up to date” with each other during the campaign.
He added: “The fact he won’t physically be visiting, I think most people understand, is because of the very different circumstances we face in this election due to it falling during a pandemic.”