TIME TO EXIT FROM BREXIT
Scallop firm boss hits out
The owner of the Stewartry’s biggest private employer has called for Brexit to be scrapped to safeguard jobs in Kirkcudbright.
West Coast Sea Products (WCSP) boss John King fears crashing out of the EU could spell disaster for his company.
The scallop firm employs 180 people between its boats and processing factory – many from eastern Europe.
Currently almost all WCSP produce is exported to the EU, without customs checks or tariffs.
Mr King said: “We’ve been told by HMRC we have to get ready for a no deal Brexit by March. We don’t want that because it would mean tariffs being imposed and export difficulties.
“That would be disastrous for us as we would be treated as a third country. We send 70 per cent of our scallops to France, 90 per cent to the EU as a whole and are 100 per cent reliant on these markets.
“About 35 per cent of our processing staff are EU nationals from Poland and Latvia, fishermen as well. And our export sales manager Nathalie Catiet is from Brittany.
“If they started to return we would have to replace them and that would not be easy.”
Mr King singled out disruption to export deadlines and import taxes as the biggest
potential threats. He said: “We have had a pretty good relationship with the EU in our business.
“Our simple transport operation means chilled scallops are sent from Kirkcudbright and arrive at Boulogne sur Mer the following morning.
“There are no checks, no delays, nothing – but if we lose that access then we are in big trouble.
“The other main producer of scallops is the USA so we have that competition too. Their exports into the EU could undermine us if we are hit with tariffs.”
Asked if the UK should stay in the EU, Mr King said: “Of course we should. If we have the chance to do it we should just scrap Brexit.
“Every month that goes by we seem to be getting into a worse situation. It’s all very well Theresa May saying that we want qualified people.
“But the whole economy needs labourers and grafters, not just fishing.”
Mr King added: “My message to politicians is that we should just remain in the EU. I have met Alister Jack and he knows how I feel.”
Conservative MP Mr Jack, who voted Leave, denied he was ignoring majority opinion in the region, which voted to remain.
He said: “I was elected as the MP for Dumfries and Ga l l oway on a manifesto commitment to deliver Brexit. The people of this country just want the Government to get on with it.”
South of Scotland SNP MSP Emma Harper said the EU withdrawal deal would be “an economic catastrophe” for Scotland.
She said: “The UK Government’s own Brexit analysis makes it very clear that leaving the European Union, in every scenario, would be bad for the economy and leave us all worse off.”
Concerns John King, of West Coast Sea Products
Uncertainty John King, right, with staff from the West Coast Sea Products factory at Kirkcudbright