Published: 05/04/2018 14:04 - Updated: 05/04/2018 14:34

UK policy damaging Moray's food and drink industry, says Lochhead

Richard Lochhead 2016MSP Richard Lochhead has claimed that UK government policies are harming the ability of Moray companies to trade abroad.

Mr Lochhead fired off his broadside today as the Scottish Secretary David Mundell toured the region.

He said: "I am pleased that the Scottish Secretary is visiting Moray’s important food and drink sector because hopefully he will realise that his policies pose a major threat to its success.

"His government’s botched handling of Brexit and desire to distance the UK from Europe will negatively impact on the sector in many different ways.

"It is possible to formally leave the EU but still retain vital economic links but the Conservatives appear to not even want that.

"The hard Brexit approach is promising to cause lasting damage to Moray’s economy given that we have many successful companies that rely on exporting to EU markets and also the free movement of people.

"In terms of leaving the Common Fisheries Policy, our local fishermen are already up in arms over broken promises for which he should apologise.

"Also, many EU nationals live and work in Moray and play a vital role in meeting our area’s labour needs so local firms are also extremely concerned by the UK Government’s determination to leave the EU’s Single Market.

"In particular, the Scotch Whisky sector is seeking several guarantees in terms of both its markets and legal definitions being protected during the Brexit negotiations and Mr Mundell must provide such guarantees during his visit to Speyside."

Amongst other locations, the Scottish Secretary is visiting the Elgin head offices of Gordon and MacPhail as well as Aberlour Distillery.

He has also been in discussions with the council and several leading local businesspeople about a possible ‘Growth Deal’ for Moray.

Mr Lochead added: "Mr Mundell must use his visit to Moray to announce UK Government support and funding for a Moray growth deal.

"We need a cast-iron commitment to fund the deal not vague and warm words. The UK’s approach to Brexit makes the growth deal all the more important if the local economy is to weather the Brexit storm.

"And, given that the UK Treasury has milked our local Scotch whisky sector, it’s now payback time."

More on the Moray Growth Deal in the very first tabloid-size Northern Scot, which goes on sale tomorrow.

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