Brexit: Fishing chief slams Michael Gove over deal ‘lies’
Fishing minister Victoria Prentis yesterday said she did not read the deal when it was published on Christmas Eve because she was busy having festive fun. She said, rather than assessing the deal ahead of a crucial vote, she was “very busy organising local Nativity trail”.
Her comments sparked outrage among the fishing community, with many arguing the deal does not do enough to protect UK fishermen.
She admitted “things are tricky at the moment” after Scottish fishermen faced staggering losses due to the Brexit trade deal.
But appearing before a Commons committee, she added: “I think the deal is a good one for the UK, in fisheries terms, it’s true to say that we had, as an industry, dreamed some pretty big dreams and in some cases it’s true to say that we didn’t get everything we asked for.”
The MP for Banbury continued to ignite fury after suggesting a solution to border delays was for Britons to eat more fish.
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She said: “We export 70 percent of what we catch in this country to the EU. We’re ambitious to carry on at that level but we will, I’m sure, also in the future, want to eat more of what we catch here.”
Scottish MPs have lashed out at Ms Prentis’ comments with many being unimpressed by her responses.
Alistair Carmichael, Orkney and Shetland MP, said: “It is clear that the fisheries minister was not brought into discussions on the deal until after the event.
“Even so, at that point, getting to grips with it ought to have been her priority – surely she could have taken a little time away from the festivities to look after own departmental responsibilities.
“When you have only seven days to implement a deal as massive and import as this one every second counts.
“I am sure that the minister has good intentions but it is truly worrying that she seems to be thinking about the issues fishing is facing in such superficial terms, talking about the industry’s aspirations as ‘pretty big dreams’ and suggesting that we just ask people to eat more fish in February.
Ms Prentis’ comments came after SNP leader in Westminster Ian Blackford demanded Mr Johnson to step in and support the fishing industry.
Mr Blackford said one shellfish exporter had lost a staggering £40,000 in a day due to bureaucratic hold-ups at the border.
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Mr Johnson argued the Government is putting “£100 million” in to support the fishing industry in Scotland and the whole UK before lashing out at the SNP.
He said: “It is the policy of the Scottish nationalist party not just to break up the United Kingdom under their hare-brained scheme, but also to take Scotland back into the EU and hand back control of Scottish fisheries to Brussels, thereby throwing away all those opportunities.”
Mr Blackford then demanded the Prime Minister should get the same support as what the European Union have put in in place to support businesses in the wake of Brexit.
He said: “The European Union have put in place a £5billion fund to support businesses with the cost of Brexit and last night it was revealed that Ireland is receiving £1billion of it.
“Can the Prime Minister tell Scottish businesses when they will be getting the same level of support?”
Mr Johnson replied: “Mr Blackford continually advocates the break up of the union with the United Kingdom and he continually advocates going back into the European Union, even though that would be immensely destructive to the Scottish economy, to jobs, to livelihoods, to pensions, to the currency.
“As far as I understand it, they’re already spending money in Scotland on indyref2, when they should be getting on with fighting the pandemic, that, I think, is what the people of Scotland want to see.”
This week, Scottish Whitefish producers association CEO Mike Park lashed out at the Prime Minister saying he has sabotaged the Scottish fishing industry.
He said: “We are pleased now that we are a sovereign coastal state and hopefully after five years we can make some adjustment.
“But the deal we have been dealt, in terms of the next five years has been absolutely atrocious.”
Mr Mark also accused Mr Johnson and Michael Gove of misleading the public on how good the fishing deal is.
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