Nicola Sturgeon says French border closure 'devastating' for Scottish seafood exporters

Nicola Sturgeon said the situation for Scottish food exporters is 'rapidly deteriorating'. Credit: PA

Nicola Sturgeon has spoken out about the "serious impact" the closure of the border between the UK and France was having, especially to Scotland's seafood exports.

Scotland's First Minister urged the UK Government to reach an agreement with France without delay although she added that food shortages in Britain were not a concern.

The closure of French ports and the Euro tunnel has led to chaos in Kent as lorries were forced to queue up for miles along the M20 or park in the Manston Airport site which is being used as a lorry park.

Ms Sturgeon said: "The situation is serious, urgent and, for our food exporters, rapidly deteriorating.

"It needs the UK Government to reach agreement with France, without delay, to get freight moving again. There is no time to lose.”

She said the “real and immediate concern” was the impact the border closure was having on food exporters, especially those trying to sell Scottish seafood to Europe.

She added: "This is the peak time of year for seafood exports and the Christmas export trade is now almost certainly lost.

"This is devastating for our world-class seafood businesses and they need our support."

  • On Tuesday, lorries were parked for miles alongside the M20:

The Scottish Government is speaking to the sector about the "need for immediate financial support", Ms Sturgeon added, saying she had also raised the issue of compensation at the Cobra meeting on Monday.

She said: “What the sector needs most of all is for the UK Government and France to agree a protocol to get freight moving again without delay.

“If that doesn’t happen almost immediately, the sector stands to lose its New Year export trade too.”

Scottish ministers are “pressing the UK Government to give this the utmost priority”, the First Minister added.

The Scottish Government is "ready to help in any way we can" in dealing with the situation, she said.

She added: "Since any solution is likely to include mass testing of freight drivers, that includes a willingness, if the terms of the agreement allow, to provide testing facilities for our sector here in Scotland.

"I want to assure the sector, parliament and the public generally that I and my ministers will remain fully and actively engaged on these matters until they are resolved."

However, Ms Sturgeon stressed there were “no concerns about medicine supplies at this stage” and no immediate concerns about food supplies.

She added: "Supermarkets are well stocked. So there is absolutely no need for anyone to buy more than planned."

However, she said: "If the situation is not resolved in the next day or so, we may start to see pressure on some fresh produce after Christmas – but that is not a concern right now and I hope it will not arise at all."