PM must give no more ground on fishing in Brexit talks, warns Tory MP
By Grimsby Telegraph | Posted: 23 Mar 2018
A NORTH East Lincolnshire Tory MP has piled pressure on Theresa May to fight for a better deal for British fishermen during her meeting with Brussels’ leaders.
Under plans revealed this week, the UK will stay in the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) until 2021, with ministers having no say over quota negotiations during the Brexit transition period.
Environment Secretary Michael Gove had previously said Britain would be an independent coastal state, free to determine quotas and access to its waters, by March 2019.
The move incensed industry figures and MPs with Labour’s Melanie Onn telling ministers her Grimsby constituents would “see this as a total sell out”.
Fellow borough MP, Martin Vickers, pictured, has now added to the pressure by joining 13 other Tory MPs, including influential Brexiteer Jacob Rees-Mogg, in calling for the fishing transition plans to be re-drawn.
The Conservative Cleethorpes MP signed the letter informing the Prime Minister that plans to keep the UK in the much-maligned CFP – whereby the EU hands-out shared access to British waters – were “completely unacceptable” and “would be rejected by the House of Commons”.
The UK must indicate to Brussels during the European Council gathering this week, said the MPs, that “leaving the European Union means setting our own fisheries policy from March 29, 2019”, and that the UK “will not remain party to the CFP during the proposed implementation period”.
But Mr Vickers denied he was threatening to vote down the transition proposals as they stand.
The Tory backbencher said: “My aim in signing the letter was to actually draw a line and say, ‘Under no circumstances can you give further ground on fishing’ and instead call for more support for our coastal communities.
“The aim was to actually strengthen the PM’s hand at the European Council (on Thursday). If she can say, ‘If you push me any further on this then I can’t deliver this through Parliament’, then that strengthens her negotiating position.
“I think we have to recognise that the transition deal agreed this week was just about acceptable for our fishing community,” said Mr Vickers.
The letter followed a submission for an urgent question in the Commons on the CFP transition arrangement by Ms Onn on Tuesday. The urgent question was granted but was given to Orkney and Shetland MP, Alistair Carmichael, to put to ministers instead.
Ms Onn, speaking afterwards, said the Government’s u-turn on remaining in the CFP could have a negative impact on investment in the catching sector.
She said, with an upgrade of the town’s docks and money ploughed into training schools, a small inshore fleet could be based out of Grimsby once again after Brexit.
“The amount of investment required for any new venture into fisheries is really high,” said Ms Onn, co-chair of the all-party fishing group in Parliament.
“They need a lot of capital to support that investment but there is a nervousness around that as there hasn’t been any commitment from the Government.
“And this news of remaining part of the CFP could set-back any investment that people might have been in the early stages of drawing-up.”