Orkney and Shetland MP, Alistair Carmichael, has called on UK government ministers to commit to fighting the corner of British farmers and fishermen in trade negotiations. The call came after a senior government advisor was reported at the weekend as saying that the UK’s farming and fishing industries are “not critically important” to the country’s economy. The advisor, Dr Tim Leunig, suggested that Britain could become more like Singapore, which is “rich without having its own agricultural sector”.
Mr Carmichael said:
“To say that fishing and farming are “not important” is to argue that our rural communities are also expendable. If Singapore – a city-state with no rural areas – is the economic model for those who inform this Government’s thinking then it speaks volumes about their priorities. This London-focused vision of the United Kingdom risks undermining the future of farmers, crofters and fishermen – and the communities that rely on them.
“These views seem to be expressed at the heart of Government decision-making, and the pattern is all too similar to when the UK joined the Common Fisheries Policy. The Tory Government at the time claimed it would protect UK fishermen while privately dismissing them as “expendable”.
“The Government must remember that the United Kingdom is far more than simply London or London’s financial sector. We should embrace and enhance the geographic and economic diversity of the United Kingdom, not toss it away in the name of a single-minded metropolitan view.”