Tories are no friend of fishing, says Isles MP as he warns not to fall for ‘Tory Pretences’

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The Tories are no fisherman’s friend, says Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MP Angus MacNeil, as he warns not to fall for ‘Tory pretences’.


The latest pretence is an ‘assurance’ by Secretary of State for Scotland, David Mundell, that the UK will leave the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) by 2020 even if the Brexit transition period is extended.


Mr MacNeil said Mr Mundell is in no position to give any commitment on this given that the UK Government has no plan whatsoever for future fisheries management post Brexit.


The Tory Government are also continuing to fail the industry by refusing to assist with the ongoing crew shortage issue.


Mr MacNeil said: “David Mundell cannot given any guarantee on leaving CFP as there is as yet no plans for anything post Brexit.


“He and his colleagues seem oblivious to the fact that:


–              it was the Tories who took the UK into the CFP;


–              it was the Tories who enabled the concentration of fishing quotas in the hands of the few;


–              it was the Tories who were adamant just a few months ago that we would have to leave CFP pre March 2019 before taking a u-turn to accept the principle of fishing in any transition.


–              it is the Tories who cannot give any guarantee that there will be no shellfish waiting at borders, that no shellfish will be wasted either in March 2019 or after December 2021, or that lorries will not be delayed on their weekly rotations.


“There are too many Tory pretences on fishing despite ‘assurances’ being welcomed by Tory MSP Donald Cameron.


“The chickens will be coming home to roost for the Tories very soon and Mr Cameron, despite his bluster, knows it well.”

Island Leave voters changing their minds

More than 10 per cent of Na h-Eileanan an Iar voters who supported Brexit have now changed their minds, according to a new poll.


Isles SNP MP Angus B MacNeil said the poll, conducted by Channel 4 and Survation, showed that many who originally thought Leaving the EU would be a positive move are now concluding that Brexit will be bad news for the local economy.


He said: “When the facts change people change their minds, this is a well known phrase and I congratulate those who are not afraid to review changing circumstances and change their minds, more will follow I am sure.


“This major new poll shows that support for Remain in the islands is up 11 per cent from 56 per cent to 67 per cent. The majority of my constituents voted to Remain in 2016 as did constituencies across all of Scotland, there is a growing support to remain in the EU yet Scotland is to be taken out against our will.


“Membership of the Single Market and Customs Union is crucial for industry in Scotland and the SNP Group at Westminster will not support any measure by the UK Government which threatens Scottish jobs and standards.”


He added: “The Tories and Labour have the same non-policy on the Single Market and Customs Union with both parties totally divided on what should and should not be on the table as part of Brexit deal negotiations – giving no answers to industries who urgently need to know what lies ahead.


“Brexit is a concern for everyone and that is becoming more apparent by the number of representations I receive on this issue including people supporting The People’s Vote on a final deal.”


As a vocal critic of Brexit and the UK Government’s handling of the process, Mr MacNeil speaks regularly in the House of Commons taking part in debates on the EU; calling for answers from the UK Government; and to highlight that Brexit will be a no win situation for the economy.


As Chair of the House of Commons International Trade Committee, he is presented with evidence from industry and trade experts from across the globe on a weekly basis.



The Channel 4 poll found that if another EU referendum was held tomorrow, it would be likely that Remain would win right across the UK.

The results were revealed on Channel 4 on Monday night in a live debate show, ‘Brexit: What the Nation Really Thinks’.



Isles MP stands up for freedom of religion

Na h-Eileanan an Iar MP Angus MacNeil attended the parliamentary launch of CSW’s toolkit on freedom of religion or belief (FoRB) on October 23rd.

The event saw the launch of humans rights organisation CSW’s toolkit on freedom of religion or belief (FoRB).

The newly-published toolkit on FoRB recognises the important role of MPs and Peers in advocating for FoRB in the global context where more than three-quarters of the world’s population live in countries with severe restrictions on their religious freedom.

In addition to an overview of different aspects of FoRB and the current situation in the countries CSW works in around the world, the toolkit also includes information on both parliamentary and extra-parliamentary mechanisms Parliamentarians can use to promote the right to FoRB.

For over 30 years CSW has worked to raise awareness of violations of FoRB around the world and to advocate for this right in various national and international platforms including the UK Parliament, US Congress, European Union and United Nations. In the UK, CSW’s work based on strong cross-party relationships continues to help many MPs and Peers to speak up to promote this universal human right in Parliament.

Mr MacNeil said: “I was pleased to attend CSW’s event and collect a copy of their toolkit on freedom of religion or belief, alongside receiving up to date briefings on the situation of FoRB around the world from CSW’s expert advocates.

 “I am committed to standing up for this fundamental human right, and urge the UK Government to do all it can to promote, protect and enable the enjoyment of FoRB for every religious community around the world without discrimination, and to prevent or sanction violations of FoRB if they occur.”


Mervyn Thomas, CSW’s Chief Executive said: “The right to FoRB is enshrined in Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. FoRB matters, not only because it is a fundamental human right, but because promoting respect for all helps to build inclusive societies that are more stable, more prosperous, and better able to resist extremism. However, at CSW we remain deeply concerned by the human rights violations committed against religious communities around the world. I and my colleagues at CSW look forward to working with Angus MacNeil MP to defend and promote FoRB for all.”


Home Office double standards on non-EEA workers

Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MP is highlighting the double standards of the Home Office following press reports that non-EEA workers are employed in the offshore windfarm industry earning a fraction of the UK minimum wage.

Mr MacNeil is continually pressing the UK Government to help the West Coast fishing industry to allow non-EEA workers to fill the gap in crew shortages.  Despite having met with 6 Tory Immigration Ministers, the Home Office refuse to help and boats are tied up due to lack of crew.

angus home office

Commenting Angus MacNeil MP said:

“The West Coast fishing industry is crying out for crew and desperate to see the introduction of a scheme to allow non-EEA workers to fill the labour gap – a scheme which pays proper wages.  However, this was rejected by the Home Office.

“It is shocking to read press reports that the Home Office has an immigration concession for the windfarm industry allowing non-EEA workers to enter the UK and paid a fraction of the minimum wage.

“The double standards at the Home Office is breath-taking.”


Good Cause in Na h-Eileanan an Iar Receives Funding Boost to the Delight of Local MP

Mr Angus MacNeil, MP for Na h-Eileanan an Iar, was thrilled to learn that a good cause in the constituency has received a welcome funding boost thanks to players of People’s Postcode Lottery.

Befriending Lewis was recently awarded £19861 from Postcode Community Trust, a grant giving charity funded entirely by players of People’s Postcode Lottery. The funding will enable the organisation to continue its work in Na h-Eileanan an Iar.

Congratulating the organisation, Mr Angus MacNeil said:

“I’m delighted to hear that Befriending Lewis has been successful in securing funds for a special arts project – ‘Breakthrough for the Housebound.’ from Postcode Community Trust

“My thanks must go to the volunteers at Befriending Lewis who give their time and energy to help others and to the players of People’s Postcode Lottery as this award will make a real difference to the local community.”

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Since the beginning of the year, over £3.3milllion has been distributed to over 350 grassroots projects operating across Great Britain through People’s Postcode Lottery’s three community programmes trusts which are; Postcode Local Trust, Postcode Community Trust and People’s Postcode Trust.

The next opportunity for groups to apply for funding will be early in 2019. For more information, please visit the trusts’ websites:



Conference calls for child refugees to be united with families

The SNP has called on the UK government to reunite child refugees with their families in the UK.

At the SNP’s conference in Glasgow, party delegates have supported a resolution which supports UK Government steps to support Angus MacNeil MP’s Private Members Bill that will; expand the definition of family member as currently only spouses and children under the age of 18 are allowed to join their family in the UK; give refugee children the right to be reunited with their parents as under current reunion rules children cannot sponsor their parents to come to the UK leaving them alone; reintroduce legal aid for refugee family applications.

Mr MacNeil’s Bill was introduced in July 2017, it had second reading in March 2018, it is due for committee stage in the autumn.

The Bill has secured cross party support and has been endorsed by a wide range of organisations, including Amnesty International UK, British Red Cross, Refugee Council and Oxfam.

The resolution passed at SNP conference calls on the UK Government to take steps to ensure that the Bill can be enacted into UK law without impediment, and affirms that refugees are welcome in Scotland, noting the valuable contribution that they make to society.

Commenting, Angus MacNeil MP said:

“The bill quite simply brings the UK into line with most of the rest of Europe to allow child refugees the same rights as adults and provides legal aid which is already provided for in Scotland.

“Some opponents of the bill say that the bill will cause people to send children as anchors ahead of their parents but if that was true then there would be no children coming at the moment and those here for legal aid would all be arriving in Scotland which is not the case given that legal aid makes their already difficult lives easier an it’s the least we can do in this dreadful situation.

“In supporting the resolution before them today, conference delegates have reaffirmed the willingness of the SNP to do all we can in support of those families torn apart by war and persecution.”

Victory for Bank campaigners in Barra

The announcement today that the Castlebay Branch of the Royal Bank of Scotland has been saved is good news for the people of Barra says local MP Angus Brendan MacNeil.

Mr MacNeil has been at the forefront of the campaign to save the Castlebay Branch and secured and hosted a visit to Barra by the Economic Secretary to HM Treasury, John Glen MP.

Commenting Angus said:

“This is indeed very good news for the Isle of Barra and a victory for common sense.

“I am pleased that the Johnston Carmichael review agreed that there are exceptional circumstances in Barra which means that this branch should remain open and that the RBS have accepted this recommendation.”

“I am delighted for RBS customers and the staff in Barra who provide such a valuable service.  A cloud has been lifted from the island economy and now visitors and locals alike will keep proper bank services on Barra.”Angus RBS Castlebay branch

No-deal Brexit would stop farming exports for six months

Commenting on reports in the Guardian that the (English) National Farmers Union has warned of ‘catastrophic’ consequences for the farming export industry for 6 months after March 2019 if there is no Brexit deal, Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MP Angus Brendan MacNeil said:

“This is obviously worrying for many people in our islands, but it is no surprise in some circles as it is what the UK Government has been hearing from farmers and veterinary bodies for some time.  The alarm is compounded by the fact that only this week Prime Minister Theresa May was back with her silly, daft and wrong mantra that no deal was better than a bad deal – no deal is the worst possible scenario, it is definitely the worst for crofters and farmers.

“It is all the more sickening for us to watch from the side-lines and to realise because of the decisions made on Scottish Independence in 2014, we in Scotland do not have a voice in this.

“We are at the mercy of events and choices made in London which is really not where we want to be, I am certain Irish agriculture would not want to trade places with those in Scotland. Crofters will have rams going to the sheep in the next 4/5 weeks, who knows what problems we will have next autumn if there is no deal and the UK crashes out of the EU and also associated trade deals with another 67 countries in March 2019, something that will also probably impact the fish and shellfish exporting sector in the very same way as agriculture.

“This really is a sign of the misgovernance from Westminster in the hands of the Tories.  The hollowness of Better Together probably doesn’t ring clearer anywhere than it does for the crofting and farming situation at the moment when all we can do is cross our fingers and hope that whatever games are being played in London do not have a terrible impact on crofting and farming and more widely in seafood exports.”



Parents should do homework on childcare costs before deadline

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Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MP Angus MacNeil is urging parents to do their homework on the best way to pay childcare costs as time is running out to sign up to Childcare Voucher Schemes.

Childcare Voucher Schemes offered by some employers are closing to new entrants on October 4th (some have closed already) and after that date only the UK Government’s Tax-free Childcare will be available to assist with childcare costs for new entrants.

The new Tax Free Childcare system is already working well for some, however Mr MacNeil urged parents to be aware that Childcare Voucher schemes could mean much bigger savings for some families.

Mr MacNeil said: “For many families Tax Free Childcare will work, however Childcare Voucher Schemes offer bigger savings for those with childcare costs of less than £9,336 a year and are an option for families where one parent isn’t in work.

“With the deadline for new entries to Childcare Vouchers looming, it is worth checking the UK Government’s online childcare calculator and ask your employer if they offer a Childcare voucher scheme.”

You can find the online calculator here

Childcare voucher schemes allow parents to purchase vouchers to pay for childcare from their salary before tax is deducted. Tax free Childcare is different in that it offers top-up payments instead.

There has been much opposition to the closure of Childcare Vouchers to new entrants and this was postponed in March for an additional 6 months following concerns.

The Treasury Committee of the House of Commons recommended that a full analysis of the winners and losers of removing Childcare Vouchers and replacing with Tax-Free Childcare be carried out, however this was never followed through.



UK Government deal or no deal Brexit will harm economy, says MP

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Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MP Angus MacNeil has hit out at the UK Government’s handling of Brexit negotiations and says exiting the EU will impact the economy even if a deal is struck.

Mr MacNeil, who is also Chair of the House of Commons International Trade Committee, has repeatedly questioned the Tory Government including the Prime Minister and the Secretary of State for Exiting the EU on what lies ahead, but has not been given any satisfactory answers.

First Minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon has today written to all UK party leaders saying that if the UK does end up facing a choice between no-deal or a blind Brexit, then an extension to the Article 50 negotiation process “must be on the table” as the only way to avoid an economic cliff-edge and to allow all alternative options to be considered

Mr MacNeil said: “With every passing day, it is becoming clearer that Brexit – with a deal or without a deal – will have negative consequences for our economy.

“What the media are not reporting is that Brexit, even with a deal – is bad news for our economy.

“Leaving the EU with a deal, a Free Trade Agreement – will mean a loss of 6 per cent to UK GDP – GDP (Gross Domestic Product) is the measurement of the value of economic activity within a country.

“Leaving the EU with no deal – a hard Brexit – will harm the UK’s GDP by 8 per cent.

“The USA makes up 28 per cent of global GDP and so a Free Trade Agreement with the US will boost UK GDP by 0.2 per cent.

“Therefore, to make up the difference, the UK needs a Free Trade Agreement with 8.4 times or 11.2 times global GDP! That leaves us with a gaping hole in our economy.”

Mr MacNeil says Scotland’s situation has changed radically since 2014 and that the time for a 2nd Independence Referendum is coming.

“We’re heading for unknown territory but we do have another option.  Voters were told in 2014 that the only way to remain in the EU was to vote NO, Scotland as part of the UK is now leaving the EU.

“We have that get out of jail card, that emergency exit that gives us another option and the time is coming to use it.”