TIME TO EXIT FROM BREXIT

Scal­lop firm boss hits out

The Galloway News - - FRONT PAGE - Stephen Nor­ris

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

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