Spectre of Brexit casts a dark shadow on food and drink sector



Stirling MSP Bruce Crawford has warned of the impact that Brexit will have on Scotland’s food and drink sector during a debate in the Scottish Parliament, marking Scottish Food and Drink Fortnight.


During the debate, Mr Crawford said:


“Make no mistake: a no-deal Brexit is a direct and specific threat to the future of Scotland’s highly successful food and drink sector. The fact that about two thirds of food exports go to the EU demonstrates just how valuable the EU market is. All the great work that has been done to ensure that food and drink exports from Scotland reached a record high of £6.3 billion last year would be hugely undermined by crashing out of the EU without a deal. That is a future that I dare not contemplate; I hope that colleagues across the chamber share that view.”


Commenting, Bruce Crawford said:


“Scottish food and Drink Fortnight is a fantastic opportunity to highlight the many successes in the local sector. From excellent whisky and gin distilleries, quality beef and lamb producers, and a highly successful diary industry, I am biased in my view that the Stirling area produces the highest quality food and drink products in the country.


“However, the spectre of Brexit casts a dark shadow this year. The recent Yellowhammer documents released by the UK Government confirm the damage that leaving the EU, and especially leaving without a deal, will have on our food and drink sector, as well as our wider economy.


“The Tory Government have tried talk-up a no-deal Brexit, and trading on World Trade Organization rules, but it’s just not as easy as that – not least because our current WTO tariffs, quotas and subsidies are negotiated through the EU, and the UK would have to take time negotiating a new set of schedules.


“In the meantime, trading tariffs with the EU would be the same for the UK as it would be for any third country that does not currently have a deal with the trading block. Such a scenario would present potentially impossible challenges for many of our country’s food producers.


“Whilst Scottish Food and Drink Fortnight is a chance to celebrate the very best of Scottish produce, this year it comes with a very stark warning. The only way to stop the potential damage of Brexit is to stop Brexit.”

Stirling MSP to EU citizens: stay in Scotland, this is your home

SNP MSP Bruce Crawford has made an impassioned plea to EU citizens living in the Stirling area to stay in Scotland amid ongoing Brexit uncertainty.


This week First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, made a commitment to EU citizens that Scotland remains their home – promising to continue making a strong case for their rights to be protected in any EU exit scenario.


The SNP leader has written an open letter to EU citizens to confirm a new ‘Stay in Scotland’ package that will consist of:


  • £250,000 for community based support across Scotland


  • a support and advice service for EU citizens with more complex needs or particular challenges


  • a toolkit for employers, including posters, factsheets, digital content and guide directing EU citizens to further guidance


Mr Crawford has previously written to EU citizens in the area following a successful campaign to push the UK government to scrap the £65 “settled status” fee.


Commenting, Bruce Crawford said:


“It is important to make clear that EU citizens will always remain welcome in the Stirling area, and I will continue to do all I can to help people stay in Scotland.


“It’s wrong for the UK government to oblige EU citizens who have built their lives in Scotland, and who contribute massively to our economy and communities, to apply for the continued right to remain in their own homes.


“With absolutely no clarity from Westminster, this announcement from the First Minister will provide welcome support for EU citizens in across Scotland.


“I’d like to urge anyone who has issues or concerns they would like to discuss with me to please get in touch.”

Brexit puts UK on brink of recession

The UK economy looks set to shrink over the coming months, as businesses and economists warn of the economy “sliding into a deepening downturn” due to Brexit.

According to reports, output from the UK’s services sector – which accounts for the bulk of GDP – has fallen for the second consecutive month.

The drop in growth has been described as “a seriously worrying development,” and prompted warnings of a recession in the UK.

Analysis has consistently shown that any form of Brexit will be damaging for Scotland, with a recent report by Scotland’s top economic adviser revealing a No Deal Brexit could result in a recession worse than 2008.

Bruce Crawford MSP said:

“Scotland has seen its economy hold up well amid the Tories’ Brexit uncertainty in the past few months – with encouraging growth and low unemployment figures.
“Despite this, the Tories’ Brexit obsession risks thousands of jobs, and serious damage to our economy.
“Brexit – which Scotland did not vote for – is a clear and present danger to our economy, our communities and our public services.
“The Tories forced us into this mess, and have consequently become the anti-business party – putting an anti-jobs Brexit first at all costs, and refusing to compromise to avoid damage to the economy.
“Throughout this Brexit process, the Tories have threatened to take us over an economic cliff edge.
“The only way to protect our economy and our vital national interests is to stop Brexit. Failing that, we must be able to remain in the single market, which is around eight times bigger than the UK market alone, and customs union.”

BLOG: NHS Scotland offers advice ahead of potential no-deal Brexit

First published in the Stirling Observer on 3rd March, 2019

By Bruce Crawford MSP


The situation regarding Brexit is chaotic and fast moving, therefore between me writing this column and it being printed, we may well have seen the debate move on in another direction entirely.


But what is hugely important is that health professionals in Scotland have given further advice on the preparations being made in the event of a no-deal Brexit and how this could impact the availability of medicines.


The Chief Medical Officer and Chief Pharmaceutical Officer have confirmed that the Scottish Government is working with all relevant agencies to ensure that people receive the medical supplies and medicines that they need, as far as is possible, if the UK leaves the European Union without a deal.


The advice also assures that medical items and medicines that can be stored, have been stockpiled by the NHS. In addition to this, arrangements are being made to ensure that those medicines which cannot be stockpiled can be transported into the UK, including by air.


In addition, assurances have been sought from the UK Government that, if there are delays at the UK Border, medical supplies will have top priority for entry into the UK.


It is not recommended by the Government that members of the public, GPs, community pharmacies or hospitals stockpile medical supplies.


The advice does recognise that shortages may unfortunately occur, but that NHS Scotland will do its best to manage the situation if necessary, and will seek to provide alternatives to treatment and medicines whilst the regular supplies are restored to normal levels.


I commend the efforts being made by organisations across the country in order to tackle the very real threat of leaving the European Union with no deal.


As the MSP for an area that voted so overwhelmingly to remain in the European Union (by 68%), I would not be doing my job if I did not speak out against this utter madness.


Therefore, I was involved in a debate in the Scottish Parliament last week on Europe and our place in it, and I would like to share my perspective on the situation we face right now.


Last week, more than 12,000 Stirling people signed an online petition to revoke Article 50 and halt the process of the UK leaving the EU.


The legal default position is that the UK leaves the EU with no deal. I have personally read the UK Government’s secret economic analysis (under the supervision of civil servants), where they confirmed that there would be an expected decline in the value of Scotland’s economy of around 9% given such a scenario.


Indeed, their own impact analysis states that the Prime Minister’s own deal would hit Scotland’s economy, threatening thousands of jobs and potentially affecting overall day-to-day living costs.


But Theresa May continues to ask MPs to choose between disaster of her own deal, and the catastrophe of crashing out of the EU with no deal.


As a compromise, the Scottish Government put forward a series of proposals in 2017 for a Single Market and the Customs Union arrangement, therefore limiting economic damage caused by Brexit.


However, this debate goes much wider than our economy.


I campaigned against Brexit in 2016, and my mind has not changed. If anything, the past two years of shambolic negotiations have only strengthened my view that our place in Europe is crucial to our economy, social fabric and overall identity.


And whilst the 62% of Scots who voted to remain are completely ignored by this Tory Government, I remain determined to work with colleagues across the spectrum – of all parties and of none – to see article 50 revoked and Brexit stopped. Then, the people must have a say on our future relationship in a People’s Vote referendum on our EU membership.

Local Stirling businesses speak out ahead of Brexit deal vote

Local businesses across the Stirling Constituency have spoken out ahead of next week’s vote, when MPs will decide whether to back Theresa May’s withdrawal deal from the European Union.


The Deal has been met with criticism across the political spectrum on a number of fronts. The Scottish Government has slammed the contents of what has been agreed by Tory Ministers for committing to end Freedom of Movement of people, and taking Scotland along with the UK out of the European Single Market.


According to the UK Government’s own impact analysis, Scotland’s economy would be disproportionately impacted by leaving the Single Market and the Customs Union. A so-called Hard Brexit would see a reduction of 9% in the value of Scotland’s GDP. That figure for the City of London was 3.2%.


The EEA option where we would still have access to the Single Market would see lesser economic decline in Scotland of 2.4%. Again, that figure for the City of London is 0.3%.


Local Stirling businesses have spoken out, ahead of the vote taking place in the House of Commons next Tuesday, with concerns about what this could mean for their business.


Commenting, Stirling SNP MSP Bruce Crawford said:


“This constituency voted by more than two-thirds to remain in the European Union, and the UK Government’s own analysis shows that decisions made about the terms of Brexit will disproportionately impact this area compared to other parts of the UK.


“The deal that Theresa May has put on the table is a bad deal for Scotland. It is a false choice that it is this deal or no deal at all – next to nobody accepts that this is the case.


“The Scottish Government’s analysis shows that this direction of travel will cost families in Scotland £1,600 a year. All of the analysis shows that the least worst option for our economy if we are to leave the EU would be to stay in the Single Market and the Customs Union.


“Of course, the best possible outcome for our economy would be to remain a member of the European Union.”



Dale McQueen

McQueen’s Gin, Callander


As far as I can understand in ‘The Deal’, Scotland does not exist as having any relevance.


It has become clear that the UK is being stitched into terms of a Custom’s Union because the Northern Ireland Border issue is swept under the carpet, because no one knows how to deal with it now, and I don’t believe ever will.


So it would be control of the UK by the EU with no less money flowing into Brussels, and with many fewer benefits than what we started with. It looks like there would be a consequent negative impact on the economies of both the UK and Scotland.


I favour a second EU referendum – a Peoples’ Vote – with a number of options on the ballot, but now from a position of better knowledge, and of likely consequences.


On the plus side, I hope the Scottish electorate better recognise the incompetence and self-serving nature of Westminster, and that the First Minister can move swiftly to an Independence Referendum.



William Lindsay

The Broch Café, Strathyre


Vegetables and fruits are a necessary part of our menus and we know that some of these are imported from Europe. Being mostly fresh produce, stockpiling is not possible.


The cost implications of food shortages does give us cause for concern and price increases to our menus may have to be considered if prices rise significantly.


Our coffee brand of Lucaffe is imported from the Lake Garda region of Italy and our coffees, judging by the comments that we receive on a daily basis, are highly enjoyed by all our patrons for both quality and authenticity. It will be a major concern to ourselves if there was a problem to the supply of Lucaffe although alternatives could be hopefully sourced for a short period until supplies of Lucaffe resume. Our patrons would be advised accordingly. Hopefully our supplier in Glasgow will stockpile this as coffee has a reasonably long storage date. We may even stockpile a few boxes ourselves just in case.



Paul Waterson

The Golden Lion Hotel, Stirling


Much of the damage has already been done: we have already lost members of staff who are EU nationals and have moved away because they were worried about what the future held.


Ending Freedom of Movement will be catastrophic for sectors such as hospitality. We need a mix of migrants to this country who are both skilled and unskilled. We want to train up unskilled workers in the hotel industry.


I do not see how this deal will address any of these concerns, or make the situation anything but worse.”

Response to Draft EU Withdrawal Deal

Responding to the Draft EU Withdrawal Deal, agreed between UK Government negotiators and the European Union, Stirling MSP Bruce Crawford said:


“Theresa May is presenting Parliament with a false choice between a bad deal or no deal at all. To take Scotland out of the Single Market, a country that voted so strongly to remain in the EU, demonstrates an unforgivable unwillingness to compromise in the national interest.


“Indeed, this draft deal doesn’t even mention Scotland once. 


“The UK Government’s own impact analysis shows that this approach will cause serious damage to Scotland’s economy. If the UK Government is willing to keep Northern Ireland in the Single Market, why not Scotland? That would be the least-worst of all options if we are to leave the EU.


“This is a deal that cannot be accepted by any MP who claims to stand up for Scotland’s interests. However, neither is it the case that a deeply damaging no-deal exit from the EU is acceptable.


“SNP MPs are instead putting pressure on the UK Government to go back to the negotiating table and reach a deal that delivers for Scotland’s needs.”


Mr Crawford has raised his concerns with regards to the Draft Brexit Deal in the Scottish Parliament with the First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, and with the Constitutional Relations Secretary Michael Russell.


Poll shows Tories out of touch with Stirling on Brexit

A new poll, conducted by Survation and on behalf of Channel 4, has shown that support for remaining in the EU has increased in the Stirling Constituency.


In the June 2016 EU Referendum, Stirling voted 67.7% to Remain. The new poll demonstrates that support for staying in the EU has increased in the area since, with only 28.99% of people supporting Leave, down from 32.28% in 2016.


UK-wide, support for EU membership has increased to 54%, with only 46% supporting the decision to leave.


The same Survation poll asked voters in Scotland whether they were more or less likely to vote for Scottish independence, based on what they had seen and heard so far over Brexit. Figures show a majority of 51.39% of Scots support independence, with 48.61% against.


Commenting, Stirling SNP MSP Bruce Crawford said:


“Stirling was in 2016, and remains today, one of the most pro-EU areas in the UK. Our local economy relies heavily on the close relationship we have with our immediate international neighbours in Europe; our communities are enriched by the contribution of EU migrants who have called this place their home; and EU funding supporting infrastructure, education and jobs growth benefits the Forth Valley areas to the tune of almost £80 million a year.


“Scotland voted decisively to remain in the European Union, with over two-thirds of people in Stirling voting to stay. It is clear that the utter shambles we have seen from the Brexit negotiations and Tory UK Government infighting has only served to increase support for remaining in the EU.


“People here know that the least-worst outcome if we are to leave the EU would be to stay in the Single Market and the Customs Union, but this Tory Government just isn’t listening. Is it any wonder that support for Scotland carving its own future is on the up?”


SNP MEP for Scotland, Alyn Smith said:


“Stirling is in a situation where it voted strongly to remain in the European Union, yet is represented by an MP who not only campaigned for Leave, but since being elected last year, has used his time in the Commons to campaign alongside the likes of Jacob Rees-Mogg for a damaging hard Brexit. Not once have the clear wishes of his constituents been represented by him on this matter.


“Stirling’s and Scotland’s future is in Europe. These recent polls have also shown that the Tories are set to lose seats in Scotland at the next election, and with Stirling’s out-of-touch Tory MP having the smallest Conservative majority in the country, this latest round of data would suggest that he is on a very shoogly peg indeed.”

Forth Valley to lose out on £77 million of EU funding after Brexit

A new publicly accessible database has laid bare the financial impact that leaving the EU will have on areas around the UK, with local area facing losses to funding of around £77 million.


The figures show that the EU has invested around £77 million in area in 2017, via projects such as:

£17,107,066 for 578 local farmers;

£19,570,416 to support 78 research projects;

£5,222,578 through Erasmus+, supporting education, training and youth projects;

£35,313,007 to support 19 projects to create jobs and boost growth.


The EU invests around £5 billion a year in the UK, and the European single market is around eight times bigger than the UK market alone.


Last week, the SNP announced that up to £18 million of European cash would be used by the Scottish Government to set up an Advanced Manufacturing Fund to help small and medium sized businesses.


SNP MSP for the Stirling Constituency, Bruce Crawford said:


“As these figures show, the Stirling area has benefited hugely from the strong relationship between Scotland and the European Union.


“EU funding has made a huge contribution to infrastructure, culture, and opportunities in Scotland. This is just the latest analysis which confirms that Brexit is going to inflict major harm on our economy.


“Far from delivering extra cash for the NHS, as was infamously promised by the leave campaign bus, Scotland faces losing out on billions of pounds of funding with no clarity from the UK government over how this will be replaced.


“We are being dragged out of the European Union against our will, and our area will be hugely damaged because of this. The only solution is to stay in the single market and customs union.”

Tory Minister threatens local Stirling food brands

The Tory government is gearing up to take protections away from Stirling’s iconic food and drink industries in order to strike post-Brexit trade deals, SNP MSP Bruce Crawford has warned.


The UK Minister of State for Trade Policy confirmed during an appearance before Holyrood’s Finance Committee this week that neither the Scottish Government nor the Scottish Parliament would be granted a formal say in future trade negotiations.


On Geographical Indication (GI) Protections, for Scotch Beef and Scottish Salmon for example, the UK minister, George Hollingbery MP said:


“In most free trade deals, certainly the ones I’ve looked at recently, you have to demonstrate a certain level of penetration into market and or desire amongst consumers for that GI to gain protection, so on the whole quite a few UK GIs which we promote fail that test when going to the Japanese market or say the South Korean market. Whisky, no problem at all. Amazingly, blue and white stilton actually quite often get through but there are several others, which we would like to protect which just don’t have sufficient penetration to warrant GI status in that market.”


The EU Protected Food Name scheme safeguards produce on the basis of geographical status or traditional recipe or method, giving legal protection against imitation and ensuring that premium products are not undermined, including Scotch Beef and lamb.


On safeguarding Scottish food standards from an influx of chlorine washed chicken and hormone injected beef, the minister also commented:

“That will all be a matter for negotiation – there are offensive interests, there are defensive interests, there are some things you refuse to accept, there are other things you may have to give and all that in the end will come out in the wash.”


The Tories have already failed to protect Scottish products in the EU-Canada trade deal, setting a worrying precedent.


SNP MSP for Stirling, and the Convener of the Finance and Constitution Committee at Holyrood, Bruce Crawford said:


“It is alarming that the Tory trade minister confirmed the SNP’s fear this week – that the Tory government is gearing up to take protections away from Stirling’s Scotch Beef and Lamb in order to strike a quick trade deal in markets like Japan and South Korea.


“It is completely unacceptable that we could be in a position in the near future where UK trade deals are imposed on us from London that do not properly protect the interests of the Stirling area’s iconic brands, leaving them open to cheap knock-offs from abroad.


“The Tory government must immediately set out provisions for enhanced involvement of the devolved administrations in trade negotiations.


“We cannot afford to put the Stirling area’s valuable food and drink sectors in the hands of the Tory Brexiteers, who think they can do whatever they want to Scotland and get away with it.”

MSP joins MEP on Stirling doorsteps to discuss Brexit

Stirling SNP MSP Bruce Crawford was joined by SNP MEP for Scotland, Alyn Smith, and Stirling SNP activists in speaking to local Stirling residents about Brexit this week.

The canvassing exercise takes place in a constituency that voted 67.7% to Remain in the EU during the 2016 referendum, and at a time when there is growing fear over a no deal scenario with the EU after Brexit.


Commenting, Bruce Crawford said:


“These are very uncertain times and, as the date of leaving the EU is drawing ever closer, residents and businesses in my constituency are growing increasingly concerned that little progress has been made to secure a deal that will avoid damage to Scotland’s economy.


“I am pleased that local people had a chance to hear from Alyn Smith, who has been at the heart of discussions in Brussels and Strasbourg, fighting for the best possible outcome for Scottish trade, businesses, jobs and people.


“The SNP have remained committed to fighting for retention of our Single Market and Customs Union membership if we are to leave the EU. Economic analyses of both the Scottish and UK Governments have found this to be the least-worst option in terms of the impact it would have on our economy – and it is clear that this is the sort of sensible approach that my constituents, who voted by nearly 69% to remain in the EU, want to see happen.”