Nicola Sturgeon: UK must guarantee future of EU nationals to protect farming industry
The UK must guarantee the future of EU nationals in Scotland to protect the future of Scotland’s agricultural industry, according to First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.
Speaking at the Royal Highland Show today, Sturgeon will stress that EU workers are virtually important to the modern farming industry, saying Scotland “has benefitted enormously from freedom of movement”.
Sturgeon will argue that abandoning the free market in order to restrict immigration is a “perfect example of the absurdity of the hard Brexit case that the UK Government was making”.
Michael Gove is also expected to speak at the show, with the newly appointed Environment Secretary having claimed that leaving the EU will give the UK the chance “put things right” in the industry.
Gove said Brexit would allow the UK to drop "cumbersome bureaucracy" and create a better form of financial support for farmers.
Sturgeon is expected to emphasise the importance of tariff-free access for Scottish agricultural products ahead of Brexit negotiations.
The FM will say: “EU workers are important to virtually all parts of the modern farming industry – from the laboratories of our research institutes to the fields of our fruit farms.
“The UK Government placed a great deal of emphasis on restricting freedom of movement. That seems to be the key reason why it is not pursuing single market membership.
“But Scottish agriculture, and Scotland more generally, has benefitted enormously from freedom of movement. So as things stand, there is still a real danger that the UK Government will abandon something which is good for Scotland – membership of the single market – in order to restrict something else which is good for Scotland – freedom of movement.
“It’s a perfect example of the absurdity of the hard Brexit case that the UK Government was making. And it is a good demonstration of why the UK Government must change its approach.”