A Fife MP said he had to bypass the Scottish Government to secure a meeting with Tory ministers as part of the campaign to restore a direct ferry link between Rosyth and Europe.
Neale Hanvey, who is the leader of the Alba Party in Westminster, will meet Scottish Office Minister Iain Stewart over calls to open up maritime trade links.
Mr Stewart offered his support for their ‘ambition’ and said a direct ferry link ‘would be good for Scotland’.
A key election promise
A link from Rosyth to the Belgian port of Zeebrugge was the only direct ferry link between Scotland and mainland Europe until passenger services were abolished in 2010.
Cargo-only services were phased out altogether in 2018.
Restoring a link to Europe was a key election promise of the Scottish Greens, who have since struck a power-sharing deal with the SNP.
Hopes for a new route were dashed when SNP Transport Minister Graeme Dey insisted any link must operate on a commercial basis. He confirmed that there was “no firm commitment” from the companies.
Political opponents say this position “dooms” any prospect of a new route.
Mr Hanvey said it is a ‘sign of progress’ that Mr Stewart is ready to meet to discuss a way forward after the Scottish government was accused of lacking ‘vision and ambition’ on the question.
The MP for Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath also welcomed the Scotland Office Minister’s acknowledgment that a link would benefit Scotland.
He said: ‘What is needed now is investment and the aim of this meeting will be to secure a commitment from the UK Government to put in place replacement funding for the Motorway of the Sea funding. EU that Brexit has removed and to ensure that any new funds are used to re-establish direct ferry links to Europe.
Scotland must do better
His colleague from Alba, Kenny McAskill, a former justice secretary in the Scottish government, insisted the country “can and must do better”.
He added: “That’s why I will continue to press for the UK Government and the Scottish Government to act to ensure that businesses, passengers and tourists have direct ferry links to Europe and I look forward to an upcoming meeting with the British minister to get things done. »
Scottish government agency Transport Scotland is backing new direct ferry services linking Scotland with Europe, but has insisted they must be on a “commercial basis”.
Dunfermline and West Fife MP Douglas Chapman has spent years campaigning for a road between Rosyth and Zeebrugge to be reopened.
The SNP MP used a debate in Westminster to highlight the ‘huge impact’ of Brexit on the Scottish economy and called for support from the UK government.
He also called for a Brexit resilience fund to be made available to Scottish businesses affected by the UK’s exit from the European Union.
The government must intervene
Following the debate, Mr Chapman said: “Re-establishing the ferry link from Rosyth to Zeebrugge could enormously benefit Scottish exporters at a time when they need all the help they can get.
“Brexit has had a huge and devastating impact on these businesses, and until a direct ferry link between Scotland and the EU is established, the government must step in and support them.
“That’s why I’ve called for more investment in Scotland’s maritime industry and a Brexit resilience fund for our exporters.
“Until the government steps in and delivers, I will keep pushing them on this.”