Sturgeon undermining Brexit talks by forcing Scottish fishermen back into hated EU policy

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The First Minister insisted Scotland wants to return to the EU during the SNP conference on Monday. Her message came after Brexit negotiations continued over the weekend as the transition period edges alarmingly close on December 31. The main obstacle in the talks has been over future fishing rights, as the automatic rights for EU vessels to fish in British waters will stop for the first time since 1973 once the UK leaves the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP).

The UK is seeking annual catch negotiations but the EU wants a longer-term perspective for its fishing industry.

Scottish Conservative Party leader Douglas Ross has criticised the SNP leader for “undermining” Brexit talks at such a crucial stage for her own agenda.

He told “At every turn during the Brexit negotiations, the SNP has sought to undermine them rather than look at the opportunities, particularly for our fishermen.

“Instead, the SNP want to take our fishermen back into the hated Common Fisheries policy, which has completely failed to deliver for them.”

From January, fish caught in Scotland will need to have an environmental health certificate that has to be signed off by an environmental health officer.

Speaking at the SNP conference, Ms Sturgeon said: “Here in the UK the threat of Brexit looms.

“In just a month’s time Scotland will be forced against our will to a much more distant relationship with our friends across the European Union.

“Before we go any further, I want to send this message to our European friends and neighbours.

“You are – and always will be – part of who we are. You are not distant to us.

“To those of you who have come from other countries to live here in ours, thank you – please stay.

“To the other countries of the EU, Scotland wants to return. And we hope to do so soon, as an independent member state.”

SNP ministers also sparked outrage back in September after they told the EU that the UK must soften its position on fishing rights.

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Mike Russell, the SNP’s constitution secretary, said he had called for compromise on both sides.

His spokesman said: “The Tories sold out Scotland’s coastal communities on the way into Europe and now they are poised to sell them out on the way out.

“Either the UK Government reneges on its promises regarding access to fishing waters – or it forces a situation which will see devastating tariff and

other export barriers placed on our seafood sector.”

A statement on the SNP’s website said the party will oppose the Government using the fishing industry as a “bargaining chip” in talks.

The SNP said: “We will continue to demand the scrapping or fundamental reform of the CFP and Scottish control of fisheries – and oppose any attempt to treat the fishing industry as a Brexit bargaining chip.

“We will also oppose any attempt by the UK government to treat the fishing industry as a bargaining chip. Having sold out fishing as ‘expendable’ on the way into the EU, a Tory government must not be allowed to betray it again on the way out.

“Fishing is fully devolved and we will expect all powers over policy to be repatriated to Scotland when the UK leaves the EU.”

It was reported last week that the UK rejected an offer from the EU that would have seen the bloc give up between 15 and 18 percent of its current quota of stocks caught in UK waters.

Downing Street said its position remained that quotas should be decided on a “zonal catchment basis”.

Talks also showed no sign of a breakthrough this morning after the EU’s Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier told the 27 national envoys to Brussels that a deal “still hangs in the balance”.

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