Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross says there is still work to be done after Brexit – but does not see it as an “electoral issue”.
The Moray MP represents an area that had the slimmest majority among Scotland’s regions for remaining in the EU in 2016.
Since the UK officially left with a deal this year, key sectors such as seafood have been caught up with delays and red tape.
Mr Ross, who is taking part in this weekend’s Scottish Conservative party conference, was asked about any concerns of a backlash ahead of May’s Holyrood election.
He said: “I don’t look at this as an electoral issue, I look at this as an industry that has found great difficulties with the deal that was reached and the procedures that were put in place.
“I’ve not shied away from accepting that and saying we have to do better.
“That’s why I called for a compensation scheme, I think it was right it was extended to the catching sector.
“But I’ve also said, and been on the record as saying, we can’t simply have a compensation scheme in place, we’ve got to improve the systems that will help our exporters get their outstanding catches out into the European Union.”
‘Still work to be done’
On Friday the impact of Brexit sparked another wave of criticism from the SNP, who accused Prime Minister Boris Johnson of “reckless vandalism”.
It followed official statistics showing UK exports to the EU droped by 40% after the transition period came to an end, made worse by the impact of the Covid pandemic.
SNP international trade spokesman Drew Hendry, the MP for Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey, said: “Instead of heeding calls to extend the transition period and supporting businesses, the Tories ploughed on regardless – and imposed this mess on Scotland against our will.”
Mr Ross said there is still work to be done by the UK and Scottish governments.
But he said there have been developments since leaving the EU, such as suspending damaging tariffs on whisky in a long-running fight with the US.