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General Election 2017 / Brett won’t sign Brexit fishing pledge

ORKNEY and Shetland SNP election candidate Miriam Brett says she will not be signing the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation (SFF) Brexit pledge.

She said the party is “concerned more broadly with the impact that Brexit could have on our fishing industry and our economy as a whole”.

The SFF has asked every candidate taking part in the 8 June UK general election to sign the pledge, which calls on the government and fishing industry to work together to take control of the country’s waters.

Those working in the sector are keen to see the end of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) once the UK leaves the EU – a set of rules which Brett said the SNP believes is “unfit for purpose”.

The Conservatives’ Jamie Halcro Johnston and the Liberal Democrats’ Alistair Carmichael have already confirmed they have signed the pledge.

The SFF's Brexit pledge, as signed by Tory candidate James Halcro Johnston.

When asked by BBC Radio Shetland if she will add her signature, Brett said “no” and spoke more generally about the impact Brexit could have on trade links and the immigration rights of workers.

“As much as we are completely in favour of reforming CFP, we are concerned more broadly with the impact that Brexit could have on our fishing industry and our economy as a whole,” she said.

“For example, one of the main areas of concern is that of trade – how to secure our trade links.

“As it stands, the UK government has a very weak negotiation hand, and there’s been a lot of comparisons, for example to say that we could have a Norwegian style deal. These deals take a decade to create – we don’t have a decade to work with.

“Another area of concern for us is that of immigration, and the possible impact of the loss of freedom of movement, on whether that’s folk working on vessels themselves or people working in fish processing more broadly.”

Brett, who is expected to provide strong opposition against Carmichael in the election, added: “The SNP’s longstanding policy on the CFP is that is has been unfit for purpose and needs either radically reformed or scrapped altogether.

“There has been efforts at a Scottish level to reform this, for example in 2013 when efforts were made to push for decentralisation so that it doesn’t have a sort of top down approach to CFP, but broadly we understand that this is something that doesn’t work for fishermen.”

Johnston, who was the first candidate to publicly show support for the pledge, responded by saying it’s “now clear that if you vote SNP, you vote to stay in the Common Fisheries Policy.”