Both sides of the Christmas break have seen intense activity at Westminster as the Fisheries…
Meeting with Michael Gove
An NFFO delegation met recently with Secretary of State, Michael Gove, as the UK and the EU move towards a crucial stage in the negotiations to leave the EU. The Federation reinforced the message, already well understood, that the EU’s aim to tie the UK into the CFP status quo, but with only a notional right to be consulted, would be wholly unacceptable, not only to the UK fishing industry, but to the voting public and strategically important politicians.
Because of the current parliamentary arithmetic, it is not at all clear that the Government would survive a deal that did not respect fishing.
The Secretary of State reiterated his support for the UK as an independent coastal state and for a rebalancing of quota shares. He entirely saw the dangers of tying fishing to a deal on trade and had support from those in cabinet who would oppose any deal that sacrificed fishing in a re-run of 1973, as the UK joined the EEC.
A Brexit without a new deal on fishing would leave many wondering what Brexit was about.
For a variety of reasons, fishing occupies a place at the very heart of the UK’s departure from the EU and will be a litmus test for success.
The Federation stressed that to give way on fishing in the transition period would be to invite a similar capitulation when discussions continue later in the year on the long term economic arrangements between the UK and the EU.
The Secretary of State agreed that the current arrangements are asymmetric, exploitative and to the UK’s profound disadvantage. He reaffirmed his commitment to ensure that the UK fishing was not again sold out and pointed to the Prime Minister’s recently stated strong position which reflected the views of the UK Government as a whole.
Mike Cohen, NFFO Chairman said after the meeting,
“This was an important meeting at a pivotal time. It is clear that the Secretary of State and the Government as a whole, are strongly committed to the UK as an independent coastal state. That is the new legal position from March 2019 and it must not be undermined or devalued by concessions made as part of a deal on the transition period. The Secretary of State fully understands that and his and our aim is to ensure that the Government as a whole stands firmly behind its stated position.”