Michael Gove accused of changing stance on fishing rights after Brexit
Liberal Democrat Brexit spokesman Tom Brake said Gove’s comments had exposed “yet another lie of the Leave campaign”.
Michael Gove has been accused of sending “mixed messages” to Britain’s fishermen after confirming foreign trawlers will still be able to access UK waters after Brexit.
The Environment Secretary is reported to have told representatives from the Danish fishing industry that British counterparts would not have the capacity to land and process all of the fish in the territorial waters.
Liberal Democrat Brexit spokesman Tom Brake said his comments had exposed “yet another lie of the Leave campaign”.
The meeting in Denmark was attended by Niels Wichmann, chief executive of the Danish Fishermen organisation, who told BBC Scotland: “The thing is he was just being realistic and he was saying that we need, within the Brexit negotiations phase, to find out where the final goal is, the final solution to the fisheries.
“The fisheries will be outside the common fisheries policy and we need a transitional period. In that transitional period we will have to have access from other countries.”
Mr Gove used a major speech in July to say that other countries would be able to access British waters after Brexit and his comments in Denmark appear to echo those remarks.
In his first speech as Environment Secretary he said: “By leaving the CFP (common fisheries policy), taking back control of our territorial waters, granting access to other countries and allocating quotas all on the basis of what is scientifically sustainable, we can ensure that we set and follow the very highest standards in marine conservation.”
But on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show earlier that month he said the Government’s plans would mean “no foreign fishing in our waters in this six to 12 mile zone”.
Shadow environment minister Holly Lynch said: “The Government is sending out mixed messages on who will be allowed to fish in UK waters post-Brexit.
“Michael Gove, after previously taking a tough line on exclusive rights for UK vessels, is already watering down those commitments.
“The Government must clarify its position urgently to prevent further damage to EU diplomatic relations that could potentially harm a deal for the British fishing industry.”
Lib Dem Mr Brake said: “Yet another lie of the Leave campaign has been exposed by the Environment Secretary.
“Michael Gove chose to put stopping EU fishing in British waters front and centre of his campaign to leave the EU, yet is now telling Danish fishermen the opposite.
“We saw a promise of £350 million for the NHS on the side of a bus, this promise to fisherman might as well have been painted on the hull of a boat.”