Scottish seafood exporters are being “let down” by Whitehall, a senior Tory has claimed after weeks of border chaos.
Exports of fresh fish and seafood have been severely disrupted by new customs checks since the transition period ended this month.
Industry insiders have estimated the delays are costing the sector more than £1 million a day.
Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross has now had his say on the debacle, telling Boris Johnson “we need to see action now”.
Mr Ross said: “Our catchers and processors are being let down by government bureaucracy both at home and abroad.
“Even worse has been the attempts to shift blame on to the affected businesses themselves.”
The Moray MP also took aim at the multimillion-pound seafood compensation scheme, unveiled by the prime minister earlier this week, telling us it would end up being little more than a “sticking plaster” without further action.
He said: “The £23 million compensation from the UK Government is a welcome start and needs to be paid out quickly but it will only be a sticking plaster unless we can find solutions to the delays themselves.
“We need to see action now so that this is just a temporary issue and not the new normal for exporting,” he added.
‘They’re going out of business’
The comments come a day after fishing industry pleas for an export “grace period” were rejected by Environment Secretary George Eustice.
During environment questions, Mr Eustice was warned the entire fishing industry could be destroyed if ministers do not fix customs clearance technology at the border.
SNP MP Stuart C McDonald said: “Scotland’s high-quality seafood producers are warning that they’re going out of business.
“They can’t have their products sitting in lorry parks in Kent waiting for customs clearance; those products have to reach market fresh.
“So what is the government doing to change the procedures and fix the technology to ensure an entire industry isn’t destroyed, and will there be ongoing compensation offered to business until this is sorted, or was that a one-off?”
Mr Eustice responded: “We have announced a £23 million fund to help those exporters who struggled with the paperwork in these initial weeks.
“We’ve also been working daily with the fishing sector to tackle and iron out any particular issues that they’ve encountered.”
He added that the problems were simply “teething issues”.