Following pressure by Conservative MPs, in unison with Scottish Secretary David Mundell, Theresa May has been forced to state that the UK will not accept an extended transition for the fishing industry.
The Transition period means the UK will officially leave the EU on the 29th of March next year but will instantly re-obey all EU laws post Brexit. This includes the hated Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) which allows EU vessels to catch 60% of the fish in British waters.
The fishing industry reacted furiously in March with nationwide port demonstrations when the government breached its red line that fishing wouldn’t be in any Transition at all.
Fishing for Leave lambasted the Transition as an “abject sell out” saying that although Britain would officially ‘leave’ and become an independent coastal state it would hand all waters and resources straight back to EU control.
Many Leave campaigns worry the Transition will never end. This was given weight by the Attorney General Geoffrey Cox, who highlighted to Cabinet that the Withdrawal and Transition agreement would have to be underwritten by an internationally binding treaty, making it hard to row back from or amend as some MPs hoped.
Alan Hastings said:
“The Transition negates automatically repatriating a £6-8bn industry which we can manage more sustainably for coastal communities.
The problem is any Transition we fear we’ll never escape – not the length it is. The pressure by Scots MPs is welcome but totally misses the point.
Any Transition means full obedience to any detrimental laws the EU forces upon us to cull what’s left of the British fleet.
The EU has every reason to do this as under international fisheries law, UNCLOS Article 62.2, if a nation doesn’t have the fleet capacity to catch all its own resources it must give the ‘surplus’ to its neighbour”
The statement by Fishing for Leave called Mrs Mays apparent concession “political theater to negate Scots Tory MP’s efforts”
Alan Hastings explained:
“The Transition agreement says that the UK must obey the whole Acquis. This makes a nonsense of the idea that the UK can opt out of certain policies at certain points of the transition.
As Cameron’s negotiation and May’s Brexit strategy have made clear you are either a member of the club or you are not – you cannot be half in our half out. There can never be – and Brussels will never accept – cherry picking that undermines the projects integrity.
The efforts of Mr Mundell are therefore welcome in highlighting the issue. However, the fact of the matter is Mrs May’s assurance is political theatre. The EU is not going to agree to let Britain out our re-obedience to the CFP early as they vigorously defend their interests whilst a weak British establishment doesn’t.
The Conservatives first said that fishing wouldn’t be in a Transition at all. How can we believe a word they say that they won’t cave in again to EU demands?”
Fishing for Leave’s statement that Brussels will play hardball to keep Britain in the CFP was vindicated by the news that the EU demands access to British waters in return for a deal.
Asked to comment on the news from Brussels Alan Hastings said:
“This is no surprise. Brussels guidelines have always read: “In the overall context of the FTA, existing reciprocal access to fishing waters and resources should be maintained.”
Our government has declared and assured in the Fisheries Bill that access to waters and trade will not be bartered. This doesn’t happen anywhere else and must not happen here.
If Conservatives don’t have a sense of electoral self-preservation and do capitulate then they will be annihilated in coastal constituencies and others nationwide where fishing is seen as an ‘acid test’.
The only way to guarantee we regain our fishing and avoid the EU annihilating it in any length of Transition is to walk away and Chuck Chequers AND the Transition.
No Deal is better than what is becoming a Ransom deal.”