Ahead of a debate on rural affairs in the Scottish Parliament today (Wednesday), the Tories have been accused of ‘spectacular hypocrisy’ on farm support – after lodging a motion on the issue which fails to explain how they would guarantee support for farmers if the UK votes to leave the EU.
Tory Farming Minister, George Eustice, has announced that he will vote for the UK to leave the EU – effectively campaigning for an end to all EU support for Scotland’s farmers and rural communities.
CAP support in Scotland is worth around £4 billion in the period from 2015 to 2020 – and the Scottish Government has invested £20 million in a new hardship fund to help farmers receiving late payments.
Commenting, SNP MSP Angus MacDonald said:
“Our farming industry is a vital part of our economy and our society – and it is right that they get the support they need to thrive. And while the complications of a new IT system have led to regrettable delays – the fact is the SNP in government is taking real action to protect farmers with a new £20m hardship fund.
“However it is quite spectacular hypocrisy from the Tories to try and score political points over farm support – when their own Farming Minister is set on seeing the support abolished in its entirety by dragging Scotland out of the EU.
“The truth is that the Tory Government has refused to give our farming communities any information about the future of the support payments they’ll receive if we’re out of Europe – the Tories in Scotland should come clean on their own Farming Minister’s plans.
“The SNP in government will continue to do everything we can to protect and support farmers – and to maintain vital CAP support by keeping Scotland in the EU. It’s time for the Tories to commit to doing what is in the best interests of our farmers – rather than launching partisan attacks to hide their own complete disarray on farming support.”
Scotland, as a UK constituent part, is a substantial net contributor to the EU, and receives only a fraction of its own money back in the form of CAP support etc. It would cost independent Scotland far less to pay this support directly to its own farmers. Why send the money on a round tour to Brussels, where most of it will be squandered on inflated salaries for a massive bureaucracy of 40,000 pen-pushers? And it is totally unreal to describe the EU as “Europe”, when it is half the size of the major all-European institutions like the CoE, UNECE and OSCE, which have their own genuinely European parliaments, for example. And independent Scotland will not be “out of Europe”, because it will still be a member of the genuine all-uropean institutions,ith up to 57 members states each, even if it leaves the half-European EU.
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