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Scottish Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing claimed the ongoing discussions with Brussels, which this week entered their eighth round, “haven’t achieved anything” as he hit out at the UK Government’s handling of the talks. He said Michael Gove, the Cabinet minister responsible for no deal planning, had given him a “personal assurance” the UK Government will pay out any Brexit-related costs.
Mr Ewing reminded Holyrood’s rural economy and connectivity committee of the pledge as he pointed to £15 million of additional costs for farmers for environmental health certificates.
He said Nicola Sturgeon’s Government was “disappointed” to see the post-Brexit talks between Michel Barnier and David Frost had not yet produced any results.
Mr Ewing said: “Our disappointment is that the high promises that were made in the referendum haven’t been delivered and the negotiations that started many months ago haven’t actually achieved anything.
“Nothing has been delivered at the moment and there are many, many concerns in the fishing communities around the coast of Scotland about the possibility of a Brexit no deal.”
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He added: “There continues to be no progress on fishing negotiations.”
Mr Ewing slammed Boris Johnson’s Government over its handling of the trade negotiations, saying it “seemingly can’t deliver what they promised”.
The Scottish Conservatives hit back at Mr Ewing’s dressing down of the Government, saying his claims were a “smokescreen” for trying to keep fishermen in Scotland tied to EU rules.
Mr Ewing said Scottish Government officials were having to prepare for the end of the post-Brexit transition period while blindfolded.
He added: “My officials are effectively being asked to work with a blindfold on.
“Perhaps if our offer of participation in negotiations had been accepted, more progress might have been made by now.”
His criticism comes after it emerged that farmers in Scotland would continue to work under an EU system after December 31.
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Last week Holyrood said farmers would continue to benefit from the £130 million Greening scheme under the bloc’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).
The scheme offers a boost to rural communities by doling out extra payments to farmers for complying with certain regulations.
Meanwhile, the First Minister has claimed that new legislation for Mr Johnson setting out arrangements for when the Brexit transition period ends is an “abomination” that will “break devolution”.
Ms Sturgeon launched a fierce attack on Westminster’s new UK Internal Market Bill on Wednesday, with SNP colleagues in the House of Commons also joining her attack.
While ministers in London have repeatedly said the proposals will transfer powers from Brussels to the administrations in Edinburgh, Belfast and Cardiff, Scottish Government ministers have branded them a “power grab”.
Ms Sturgeon said her Government will “fight tooth and nail against this shameless bid to reverse the devolution of power”.
She said: “The UK Government are not only set to break international law – it is clear they are now set to break devolution.
“The Tories’ proposed Bill for a so-called UK internal market is an abomination.
“It is a naked power grab which would cripple devolution.”
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