Boris Johnson speaks about the "excellent" Brexit deal in Brussels today. Image: BBC.

Brexit agreement is a Christmas present for salmon farmers

Scotland’s salmon farmers have welcomed today’s announcement that UK and EU negotiators have agreed the terms of a Brexit deal ahead of an important trading period for fish producers.

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Although there is no guarantee the deal will be approved by MPs at Westminster, it is likely that the agreement will at least halt the threat of a no-deal Brexit on October 31.

Hamish Macdonell, strategic engagement director for the Scottish Salmon Producers’ Organisation (SSPO), said: “We welcome the prospect of a deal as it lifts the threat of barriers to trade with the rest of the EU in the run up to Christmas, which is a very important period for the Scottish salmon sector. 

“Of course, the details will need to be studied carefully but for now we hope that a deal will represent business as usual.”

‘Frictionless trade’

The Food and Drink Federation also gave the news a cautious welcome.

FDF chief executive Ian Wright said: “The UK’s food and drink manufacturers will welcome the news that a deal has been struck. They will hope that this means, definitively, that a no-deal exit on 31 October cannot happen. 

“Our focus now switches to whether this deal can command the support of the UK Parliament, and what the detail of the deal means for our members. Their objectives are securing frictionless trade and regulatory alignment with the EU, our largest market. They also must have access to the workers our industry needs.”

‘Fair’ outcome

Prime Minister Boris Johnson called the agreement an “excellent” deal and EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said it was a “fair” outcome, adding that there should be no need to extend the Brexit deadline beyond October 31.

But that relies on Westminster approving the deal, which is by no means certain.

Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) has already said it will not support it because it creates a customs border between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK, and Labour, the Liberal Democrats and the Scottish National Party will vote against it.

If the deal is to win approval at Westminster, Johnson will need the support of the 23 former Conservative MPs who are now independents, along with some Labour MPs and ex-Labour MPs who are now independents.

If he loses, Johnson may yet be forced to ask the leaders of the 27 member states of the EU for an extension.