Johnson urged to hand over farming cash

27 July 2019, 08:20 | Updated: 27 July 2019, 08:26

Boris Johnson

New PM Boris Johnson is facing calls to "swiftly" hand over £160 million of European cash to the Scottish Government in a bid to redress an "historic injustice".

Scotland's Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing has written to the newly-elected Conservative leader to urge him to pay the cash, which the UK received as a result of Common Agricultural Policy, to ministers to in Edinburgh.

The UK was only eligible for the funding because of the lower per hectare payment rates for farmers in Scotland, SNP ministers argue.

As a result Mr Ewing said he was writing to the new PM to "urgently to seek confirmation of your pledge to reinstate the £160 million CAP (Common Agricultural Policy) funds that are owed to Scottish farmers".

He told Mr Johnson: "Such recognition by the UK Government, six years after the act, is long overdue and I hope that this money will be made available promptly so that Scottish farmers do not have to wait very much longer to be compensated.

"Since the £160 million will replace EU agriculture funding that was wrongly allocated, I expect the UK Government to simply pass on the amount to the Scottish Government so that, as paying agents, we can make payments to our farmers and crofters.

"Agriculture is, as you know, devolved and so it should be up to the Scottish Government to decide the best way to distribute this money in accordance with our priorities for the sector."

Mr Ewing added he hoped to have "early discussions" with Theresa Villiers, the new Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs on the issue "to ensure swift payment to the Scottish Government especially given the considerable financial pressures facing Scottish farmers and crofters at the present time".

A Defra spokeswoman said: "We have been clear from the outset that the review is about ensuring fair funding in the future, not unpicking the allocations of the past.

"We look forward to reading the review and working with all four parts of the UK to ensure fair funding for all farmers as we leave the EU."