WHEN the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, Stephen Barclay, gave evidence to the Select Committee for Exiting the EU under the chairmanship of Hilary Benn MP on 17 July 2019, it was under the May premiership rather than the Johnson premiership commencing a week later.

Towards the end of the session, Conservative MP Jeremy Lefroy and Mr Benn asked some pertinent questions concerning fishing in a No Deal situation. These produced some very worrying answers.

The answers revolved around continuity and building reciprocal arrangement. Continuity of what? Presumably the Common Fisheries Policy. While there is nothing wrong with reciprocal arrangements of equal value, at present for every ten units of value the EU take from the UK we get only one unit back. Continuing that would be unacceptable.

Another area was the impression given by the UK Government of their fear of French fishermen blockading the Channel ports and preventing the flow of goods, and that the UK would capitulate on EU access to UK waters to avoid any confrontation.

It is of extreme concern if any UK Government is not prepared to stand up against aggression by another nation prepared to flout international law, and indeed the EU’s own laws.

Of course one can say that this select committee session was under the May watch, not the Johnson watch, but we don’t know if there has been any change, and when we do find out it could be too late.

Please let us have clarification on the fishing issue, and also movement on a British management system that will benefit the living marine resource, and in turn our coastal communities.

What is unacceptable is a continuation of the CFP to the detriment of the marine stocks, allowing the EU to cherry-pick by using threats and having a total disregard for EU rules and international law.

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John Ashworth
John Ashworth has worked all his life in the Fishing Industry, as a gear designer and manufacturer. He spent 20 years working on fishing vessels around the world, and promoted environmental issues, He led the Save Britain's Fish campaign through the nineties and early twenties and is now part of Fishing for Leave.