North-east MP highlights problems for food and drink sectors post-Brexit
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Gordon MP Richard Thomson has urged Secretary of State for Scotland Alister Jack to intervene on his Cabinet colleagues to force a change in the UK Government’s post-Brexit policies which he outlines are causing issues for food and drink sectors.
Publicising the Taste of Scotland event, the Secretary of State said “the UK Government is equipping Scottish firms with the tools they need to take advantage of new export opportunities opening up around the globe".
But Mr Thomson has said that Parliamentary answers he received from Mr Jack last week on the Scottish seed potato sector showed little evidence of any recognition of the threats facing seed potato exports as a result of Brexit.
Mr Thomson said: "Alister Jack may give the impression at events like these his department is working hard to get the UK Government to support Scottish food and drink.
"The reality, as evidenced by his rather vague and evasive answers to my Parliamentary questions is somewhat different.
“The Scottish potato sector’s output contributes more than £208 million to the economy and exports to over 40 countries worldwide, so it is of vital importance.
"The reality is its export market has been taken away from it – they cannot even export to Northern Ireland as a result of a policy made in Westminster.
"If the Secretary of State wants to show support for the Scottish food and drink industry he should use this event to explain in detail how he will personally intervene on his UK Government colleagues to get a change in the disastrous policy which has created these conditions. Businesses in the north-east need action now."
Mr Thomson's first Parliamentary question was: "To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland, what assessment he has made of the impact of leaving the EU on the Scottish seed potato sector; and if he will make a statement."
Mr Jack replied: "The UK Government is continuously monitoring the agriculture sector and is in regular contact with EU counterparts to help mitigate trade issues, including in relation to seed potatoes."
The Gordon MP's second question was: "To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland, what discussions he has had with representatives of the Scottish seed potato sector."
Mr Jack's response was: "My officials and I are in regular contact with a range of stakeholders from the agricultural sector, including representatives of the Scottish seed potato sector."
Mr Thomson's final question was: "To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland, what recent discussions he has had with representatives of (a) the Northern Ireland Executive and (b) the Government of Ireland on Scottish seed potato exports."
Mr Jack said: "My officials and I are in regular contact with the Northern Ireland Executive on a range of issues including those affecting the agri-food sector, most recently at an Inter-Ministerial Government EFRA meeting. The UK Government is in regular contact with the Government of Ireland on similar issues."