SCOTLAND must maintain vital links to the European Union to continue to benefit from the EU’s policies on environmental and agricultural policy, according to a former SNP MEP.

An organic farmer, Heather Anderson was appointed to the European Parliament after the General Election saw Alyn Smith head to Westminster, but she was only admitted to it for four days in January after prevarication by the UK Government.

Anderson said: “We belong right at the heart of Europe, working in alliance with our colleagues in the European Parliament, shaping agricultural and environmental policy to protect our land, our seas, our livestock, our food supply chains and the people who work in them.

“And back in January, that’s exactly what we were doing, despite Westminster’s attempts to deny us. Last week, Jacob Rees-Mogg tried to deny us by declaring the Scottish Border didn’t exist, which is a shame, because I’m an elected councillor there. Back in January he tried to deny us by delaying UK Government approval for my appointment to the European Parliament.

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“Luckily Rees-Mogg didn’t succeed on either count. Last week, The National’s Fact Checker confirmed the Scottish Border does exist and back in January, despite Rees-Mogg’s protestations, I was enrolled as a Member of the European Parliament. They couldn’t deny us then and we won’t be denied now.”

Anderson emphasised the close co-operation that was evident in Strasbourg, saying: “In the weeks and months leading up to those momentous scenes both inside and outside the European Parliament – when we were dragged out of Europe without our consent and against our will – we had been busy. Together with fellow SNP MEPs Christian Allard and Aileen McLeod, I had been contributing to the development of Europe’s Green Deal.

“Unlike deliberations in the UK Parliament, where our views are ignored and derided, our contributions to the European Parliament were welcomed and respected. Thanks to the groundwork of all our former MEPs, Scotland is regarded as a country leading the way in mitigating climate change, upholding human rights and developing a circular economy.”

That Green deal is vital for Scotland, Anderson says: “At the heart of the EU’s Green Deal is the Farm to Fork strategy which accelerates Europe’s move towards a more sustainable food system. European citizens will have access to affordable, healthy food while tackling climate change.

“Farm to Fork legislates for high animal welfare, pesticide control, food labelling and links farming subsidies to the Green Deal. That’s what we want here and that’s why the Continuity Bill is so important.”