Brexit: French MEP says fishing ‘must remain priority’
Chief Brexit negotiator Lord Frost has reportedly said the UK would be willing to accept a cut of around 33 percent cut on EU fishing quota if the bloc backed down in other areas, sources close to the talks told Bloomberg. The offer is much more generous than the 60 percent cut Britain last week demanded the EU take to secure a trade deal.
On Friday the EU said that a reduction of 25 percent was the most it would agree to.
The offer is being floated with hardline member states, such as France and Denmark, to determine how the bloc’s Brexit envoy Michel Barnier should respond.
Hitting out at the offer, former Brexit Party MEP Jake Pugh said such conditions would be “totally unacceptable” for Britain’s long-suffering fishermen.
And fellow ex-MEP June Mummery warned coastal communities across the UK would be “finished” if fishermen were forced to watch their European counterparts keep such a huge proportion of catch after December 31.
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Ms Mummery also rejected the idea of a transition period for post-Brexit fishing, insisting that the British industry needs to rebuild itself immediately.
The UK has said it would accept a three-year transition period on fisheries, while the EU is pushing for seven years.
Both sides could strike a deal by meeting half-way.
Mr Pugh also said the EU’s call for Britain to sign up to the so-called level playing field on competition rules is a “trap”.
He said: “Talk is five-year transition and UK gets only 35 percent of fish. Totally unacceptable after four-and-a-half years of waiting.
“Furthermore, EU wants option to impose cross retaliation tariffs when they rejected notion of a tariff-based deal months ago.
“This is total cakeism and UK must reject this proposed deal and see the level playing field for the trap that it is.
“Totally unacceptable for UK fishers and coastal communities.”
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Ms Mummery echoed his concerns over Lord Frost’s offer.
She said: “If Frost has sold us out, the coastal and fishing communities will be finished, we need to completely rebuild now if we are to save British fishing.
“A transition period will be the death of us.”
Martin Daubney, former Brexit Party MEP and editor of media channel Unlocked UK, said if the EU accepted the UK’s latest offer the Conservative Party would suffer significantly because Boris Johnson vowed to protect fishermen.
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Mr Daubney warned Mr Johnson would be seen as another former Prime Minister Ted Heath if he did not protect the livelihoods of trawlermen under a deal.
He said: “In 1973 Ted Heath sunk our fishing industry by selling it out to the European Economic Community (EEC).
“If Boris Johnson – after all his bluster – does the same again, then this Tory government deserves to be torpedoed not only by the 186 coastal communities but by all those Leavers in the Red Wall who put their faith in the Tories for the first time.
“This would be seen as the ultimate Brexit betrayal by the 17.4 million who voted to take back control.”
And Ann Widdecombe was equally critical of the fishing offer.
The former Brexit Party MEP said: “Nothing short of full control of our own seas should even be contemplated.”
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