Asked how much Brexit has cost some key Scots industries, one Scotland Office minister had a similar technique.
At Scotland Questions in Westminster on Wednesday morning, Tory MP David Duguid was asked to outline the losses to the seafood, hospitality, and food and drink industries in Scotland as a result of Brexit.
SNP MP Alan Brown had said: “I wonder if the minister could detail what is the losses to the seafood industry through Brexit, what is the compensation they’ve received from the UK Government, what’s the current losses to the hospitality industry because they can’t access EU labour, and what’s the total losses to the Scottish food and drink federation because of the shortages caused by the HGV lorry driver crisis?”
Faced by these questions and their inconvenient answers, Duguid simply said he hadn’t heard “all of that”.
The Tories are notorious for their inability to multi-task – and disbelief at the suggestion that others may be able to – so perhaps four questions in a row was a bit much for David Duguid to manage.
Or maybe he heard the questions and just didn’t want to answer. The facts aren’t too convenient for him after all. Either way, he certainly didn’t let the facts get in the way of his answer.
Duguid responded: “I didn’t quite catch all of that but I did catch the words fishing and HGV drivers.”
Note: he must have poor hearing indeed considering “fishing” is not even a word Brown said.
The Tory went on: “On fishing, I wouldn’t be surprised if I talked to much more people in the fishing industry than [Brown] does, and I will take my advice on the situation in the fishing industry from them rather than from members opposite or indeed Twitter and the rest of social media.”
Duguid handily ignored what any of those people in the fishing industry had to say. It seems he also has a disdain for social media.
If he had gone on Twitter, he’d have seen Jamie McMillan, managing director of Lochfyne Langoustines, warn his business was on the brink of bankruptcy after Brexit came into effect.
If Duguid had told us what all those fishers he spoke to had to say, it might have been something about being close to closure due to Brexit’s impact.
But no, he just pretended not to hear the question. Moving on.
Addressing the HGV shortage, the Scotland Office minister’s relationship with the truth became still more estranged.
He said: “In terms of HGV drivers … we recognise this issue, this is not a Brexit issue, otherwise we would not be seeing the same exact same problem right across Europe and in fact right across the world.”
We don’t know who Duguid’s been listening to, but his hearing must be shot after all.
The news that the shortage of hauliers isn’t due to Brexit will come as news to Rod McKenzie, managing director of policy and public affairs at the Road Haulage Association (RHA).
While there has been a shortage of HGV drivers across Europe for the past 15 years, it is only recently the UK has started to feel the bite of these shortages. Why? A study published in August by Transport Intelligence said that while other countries faced shortages, the UK is at “crisis point” due to – drumroll please – Brexit.
Someone, preferably with a loud and clear speaking voice, tell Duguid.