By Ken Fletcher and Claire Taylor

TORY LEADERSHIP contender, Boris Johnson, looks as if he will make good his promise to Scottish farming by confirming that the industry will receive its £160m lost ‘convergence’ cash, with payments backdated to 2013/14.

The Scottish Farmer has learnt that Mr Johnson’s declaration of a ‘historic opportunity’ to unite the UK in the face of a future independence referendum, will include paying up on the hotly disputed convergence monies promised to Scottish farmers, but which was instead divvied up between all the UK ‘nations’.

During a hustings event in Perth at the end of last week, Mr Johnson promised an extra £25m per year in subsidies for Scottish farmers if he became Prime Minister. He stressed that Scottish farmers had been ‘poorly treated’ and that in proposals planned for the post-Brexit era, farmers north of the Border would receive the same per hectare farming payment as the UK average.

Since then, the favourite to be the next Prime Minister, added: “For years, British farmers have been given a poor deal by the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy – but it’s clear that Scottish farmers have been particularly poorly treated. It’s time that we stopped this. Once we leave the EU on October 31, we will have a historic opportunity to introduce new schemes to support Scottish farming – and we will make sure that Scotland gets a better deal.

“It is only right that, after we leave the EU on October 31, we take this historic opportunity to unite our country. As we leave the CAP, we can address many of the historic injustices that that system introduces, and make sure that Scotland’s farmers get the support that they are owed,” he added.

Scottish farmers are to be given an amount equivalent to the total sums of the convergence funding that was allocated to the UK in 2013 and has thereafter been a point of contention between the UK and Scottish governments. The amount totals £160m which should have been used in Scotland.

Despite promises from Mr Johnson to right the wrongs of past ‘injustices’ during the Tories’ Scottish hustings, Scotland’s Rural Affairs Cabinet Secretary, Fergus Ewing, stressed that this would not be enough to mitigate against the damage posed by a no-deal Brexit.

Commenting on Mr Johnson’s promise to ‘consult the Scottish government on ways to deliver this funding to Scottish farmers as quickly as possible,’ he said: “Scotland’s farmers don’t need to be consulted – we just need the £160m paid and for a new fairer funding outcome applied as soon as possible. By itself, this commitment is not enough to mitigate the impact of a threat of no deal Brexit which is causing massive uncertainty for Scotland’s farmers and crofters,” pointed out the Cabinet Secretary, who had put former NFUS president, Jim Walker, into ‘bat for Scotland’ in January of this year.

It seems Mr Walker’s forthright manner has appealed to both Mr Johnson and the civil servants tasked with making the reparation.

NFU Scotland president, Andrew McCornick, spoke to The SF after Mr Johnson’s hustings announcement: “While we seek greater clarity on how such a support pledge could be funded amongst competing demands on HM Treasury, this statement is cautiously welcomed by NFU Scotland.

"Looking ahead after Brexit, NFU Scotland is calling on the UK Government to commit to a ringfenced funding arrangement for agriculture that delivers at least the same quantum of funding to agricultural businesses allowing them to improve their productivity, profitability and their environmental delivery,” he said.

“Our key demands on Brexit remains unchanged. We must avoid a ‘no-deal’. If we were to shift to tariffs under the UK Government’s proposed ‘no-deal’ tariff schedule severe damage would be inflicted upon the whole agri-food industry, impacting not just our important export trade with Europe and the rest of the World, but also potentially opening up the UK market to imported produce that has been produced to lesser standards.

“The new Prime Minister must recognise that in such an event, the market support required by industry from government will be significant and will far surpass £25m, which will be a drop in the ocean compared to the financial damage that could be inflicted on industry,” concluded Mr McCornick.