Brexit sellout: Fishing chief accuses Boris of ‘betraying’ industry with latest concession
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Scottish fishing leaders have reacted with fury to the news that Boris Johnson is offering the EU fishing concessions in a bid to get a trade deal over the line. Elspeth Macdonald, chief executive of the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation (SFF), said a compromise on fishing quotas would amount to a sellout.
She said in a statement: “Amid all the rumours and speculation, we have been clear from the outset that the industry only seeks the same sorts of arrangements that the EU has with other coastal states – full control of access to our waters, fairer quota shares based on zonal attachment and annual negotiations on access and fishing opportunities.
“No more and no less than the EU has with others.”
Ms MacDonald spoke out after it was revealed the Prime Minister held a secret phone call with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on Monday to try and secure a last-minute deal on fisheries.
The proposal by the British would allow the EU to keep about two-thirds of the value of fish, worth £590million, that European boats now catch in British waters.
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The UK negotiating team also offered a transition period of five years to phase in the post-Brexit arrangements for fishing.
Britain initially offered Brussels 40 percent of fishing quotas, with Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief negotiator, pushing for 75 percent.
Ms MacDonald said the 30-35 percent cut in EU quota would be seen as unacceptable by Scottish fishermen.
She said: “If any of these offers are accurate, then in terms of percentages and length of the transition period, they are utterly derisory and totally unacceptable to the Scottish fishing fleet.
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“Repatriating only 35 percent of the EU’s landings to the UK phased in over a period of several years would be a terrible deal for the fishing industry.”
The FSS boss continued to warn the Government against a fishing sell-out, as she said offering concessions on fisheries would leave the UK as a “coastal state in name only”.
She said: “You cannot have sovereign control over your fishing waters with one hand tied behind your back.
“This is not what we were promised, and only last week the Prime Minister made the same point at PMQs.
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“If this is indeed what is on the table, then the Prime Minister and his Government will have completely betrayed the promises they have made repeatedly, in public and in private, to our industry.”
But Brussels has rejected the UK’s latest fishing proposals, marking a significant setback for the talks.
The EU was said to be unhappy with the UK’s offer of a five-year transition period, with Brussels pushing for seven years.
The length of the clause is understood to be key in convincing French President Emmanuel Macron to back any compromise on fishing.
The Government is planning for any trade deal to be ratified in Westminster between Christmas and New Year, with an emergency parliamentary session planned for a week tomorrow.
The transition period is set to end in nine days with Britain leaving the EU’s single market and customs union.
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