South Scotland MSP Emma Harper has accused Conservative MP Alister Jack of “selling out” his constituents by calling for a hard Brexit.


The accusation comes after the MP signed a letter, along with some of his Conservative Party colleagues, calling for an extreme Brexit that would have devastating consequences for rural Scotland.


Ms Harper wrote to Mr Jack today (Wednesday) expressing her dismay at his decision to call for an extreme Brexit, just days after research published by Scotland’s Rural College warned that leaving the single market and customs union poses a serious risk to Scottish farming.


Ms Harper said:


An extreme Brexit that would have devastating consequences for rural Scotland – not least for our constituents who make their livelihoods in the agricultural sector.


“Mr Jack’s demands that “any implementation period should be based on WTO principles” and for further trade liberalisation is of particular concern – especially in light of the recently published SRUC study on the potential economic impact of post-Brexit trade scenarios for Scotland’s farms.


“The possible effect of the Tories preferred hard Brexit on the sheep and cattle farmers we represent in the south of Scotland is seen to be particularly damaging, with sheep numbers in Scotland falling by more than half, beef cows by more than a quarter, and the removal of direct support payments leading to 89% of specialist sheep farms making losses in 2022 and two-thirds of specialist beef producers.


“Just yesterday it was reported that Scotland’s food and drink industry leaders are concerned that costly tariffs would hammer the sector under a Brexit scenario where exports between the EU and UK would subject to World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules – something for which Alister Jack is now openly advocating.

“I have written to Mr Jack today urging him not to sell out our rural community in the south of Scotland in pursuit of his own personal ideological positioning on Europe.”