Publised date : 10 Oct 2018

Perthshire North MSP, Mr John Swinney, and Perth and North Perthshire MP, Mr Pete Wishart, have today hit out at a letter of reply received from the UK Government.

The UK Government’s response was received on October 9th  2018 – 356 days after the MP and MSP wrote to then-Home Secretary, Amber Rudd raising serious concerns about the future of the soft fruit industry across Tayside in the wake of the Brexit vote. 

In the initial letter, Mr Swinney and Mr Wishart asked for urgent clarity over the rights of seasonal workers and action to be taken to protect Tayside’s soft fruit industry from the effects of Brexit.

Commenting, Mr Swinney said:

“I am deeply unhappy both with the content of the UK Government’s response and the fact that it has taken almost one calendar year to reach our offices. 

“In the year since we sent our letter, we have seen one of Tayside’s most vital industries hamstrung by Tory incompetence, indecision and intransigence. As fruit rotted on the vines and local farmers fought for their livelihood, the Tory government was more concerned with clinging on to power than using their power to help businesses across our region.

“Whilst the UK Government is happy to meet with passive Scottish Tory MPs who refuse to stand up for their constituents, they seem incapable of meeting or engaging with SNP politicians who seek to hold them to account for their disgraceful handling of the entire Brexit debacle.”

Mr Wishart added: 

“Getting an official response from Government Ministers can sometimes take a bit of time but to take almost a full calendar year is an absolute insult to the soft fruit sector. Farmers and growers have been waiting on action from the UK Government and remain totally unsatisfied with the measly pilot study of 2,500 seasonal workers which has been put forward by Ministers. Given that the industry reckon they need closer to 100,000 workers to keep fresh UK produce on our tables, these proposals are nowhere near bold enough.

“It is fine for Ministers to sit in Government offices in Whitehall but this is real life for our farming communities and it will soon be very real for all of us when UK grown produce starts to disappear from the shelves because the workforce is not there to pick it.

“I will continue to stand up for our rural communities in Westminster and speak up against the disastrous handling of Brexit.” 

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