Andrew Bowie hits out at SNP for 'point scoring' over fisheries
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Nicola Sturgeon’s SNP MPs have been called out for not standing shoulder to shoulder with Scotland’s fishermen following the seizure of a Scottish vessel by French authorities. Conservative MP Andrew Bowie hit out at the SNP in the Commons for looking to score “cheap political points” rather than stand up for Scottish fisheries. Environment Secretary George Eustice echoed Mr Bowie’s remarks and stressed the Government stands “squarely behind Scottish fishing.”
Mr Bowrie asked the Secretary of State: “Does he agree with me that today with the Scottish National Party, the mask really did slip?
“When it came to a choice between working with us to stand up for the interests and rights of Scottish fishermen or scoring cheap political points.
“They chose cheap political points and pointing the finger every single time.”
Mr Eustice responded: “Well, I thank my Honourable Friend for that intervention and I think what I can say is that the UK Government absolutely stands squarely behind the Scottish fishing industry, always has done.
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“That’s why we supported the wishes of the Scottish industry to leave the Common Fisheries Policy.
“We will always continue to support the interests of Scottish fishing.”
The clash in the Commons followed reports that a British boat was seized amid a bitter row with France over post-Brexit fishing rights.
French authorities have argued the scallop trawler Cornelis had been fishing in France’s waters without a licence.
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Mr Eustice told the Commmons the Government had launched an urgent investigation into the seizure.
“What I’ve been able to establish so far in respect of that vessel is that they were on the list that was provided by the MMO (Marine Management Organisation) initially to the European Union,” he told MPs.
“The European Union, therefore, did grant a licence. We are seeing some reports that for some reason they were subsequently withdrawn from the list, it’s unclear why that might have been at the moment.”
Mr Eustice added the UK would mount an “appropriate and calibrated,” response amid urgent talks with the French government.
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The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “We are monitoring this situation very carefully. We have relayed our concerns to the commission and the French government.
“We think the threats outlined yesterday evening were disappointing, were disproportionate, and were simply not what we expect from a close ally and partner.
“I can’t at this moment set out exactly what our response might be.
“It will be appropriate, it will be calibrated.”
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