Scottish Tories raise fishing concerns with PM after Brexit transition deal
The UK is to be ‘consulted’ on the allocation of fishing quotas and access to waters during the transition period.
Scottish Tory MPs said they had put the Government “on notice” after they voiced concerns about the impact of the UK’s Brexit transition deal on fishing directly with the Prime Minister.
They met Theresa May to discuss their concerns about the agreement as Labour’s shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer said it was “inevitable” the interim arrangements for leaving the European Union would keep the country linked to the common fisheries policy (CFP).
Sir Keir said anger had erupted in the sector because of the Tories “not having been straight with those in the fishing industry”.
At the same time, Scottish Brexit minister Mike Russell claimed some in the Conservative Party had been “guilty of a cruel deception” over Brexit and fishing.
Fishermen had wanted the UK to regain full control over the country’s fishing waters immediately after the country formally leaves the EU in March 2019.
WATCH 🎥 Like fishermen across Scotland, I feel very badly let down by this #Brexit deal. Much work to be done to protect our fisheries after the implementation period.— John Lamont MP 🏴🇬🇧 (@John2Win) March 20, 2018
But we must stop the @theSNP plan to stay in the CFP.#seaofopportunity 🐠 🐟 🎣 pic.twitter.com/Ut0qowaiWl
However, the agreement – reached on Monday by Brexit Secretary David Davis and EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier – states the UK will be “consulted” on the allocation of fishing quotas and access to waters during the transition period.
Sir Keir said the problem arose after the Government had “overpromised and is now under-delivering” to the fishing fleet.
He said Environment Secretary Michael Gove and Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson had been “quick to go out in the past and say that we would have control over fishing in March 2019 … and they weren’t being straight”.
He stated: “It was inevitable that the transitional agreements that were agreed yesterday would be on the same terms as we currently have.
“The problem for the Tories is not having been straight with those in the fishing industry, they are now rightly facing some pretty serious questions.”
Mr Russell said that changes to fishing “are not going to be kicking in until 2020, despite all the assurances that have come from certain political figures claiming that we’ll be leaving the CFP in March 2019”.
Watching the bewilderment & fury of new MPs like Douglas Ross & Ross Thomson regarding the UK Tory capitulation on fishing can this really be the first time they have realised that to any @GovUK Scotland is at best an asset to be traded & at worst an irrelevance to be ignored.— Michael Russell (@Feorlean) March 19, 2018
He added: “That was not true, was always not going to be true and indeed people who asserted that it was going to be true were guilty of a cruel deception.”
Conservative MPs had also voiced their concerns about the deal, with Moray MP Douglas Ross stating bluntly: “It would be easier to get someone to drink a pint of cold sick than try to sell this as a success.”
Fellow MP John Lamont said the discussions with Mrs May “gave Scottish Conservative MPs the chance to put the concerns of fishing communities direct to the Prime Minister”.
He continued: “I very much welcome Michael Gove’s comments in Parliament that, after the transition, the UK Government will decide who can access our waters and on what terms.”
Mr Lamont also said: “The Government should be clear that they are on notice – no deal for fishermen and they will have to think again on the terms of our departure.”
David Duguid, the Conservative MP for Banff and Buchan, said: “We made clear to the Prime Minister our disappointment at the outcome of the talks and the length of the transition period for the fishing industry.
“However, we must not lose sight of the fact that we are committed to coming out of the EU and out of the common fisheries policy.
“We must protect the rights of our fishermen during the implementation period and we must ensure full sovereignty and control over our waters from December 2020.
“At that point, we will be a fully independent coastal state and we must be able to decide who can access our waters and on what terms.”
He added: “There is no doubt yesterday was a setback, but there is still light at the end of the tunnel, and a huge prize to be won.”