Will Mrs May Sink or Swim On This “Acid Test” of Brexit
The EU demand in the leaked EU Council Draft Guidelines for the 22nd March must be slammed down by the government.
The EU demands that a condition of a Free Trade Agreement is that;
“existing reciprocal access to fishing waters and resources should be maintained”.
This was to be expected and shows the EU’s opportunism, cynicism and hypocrisy.
Whether the UK government capitulates to this demand is a big “acid test” of whether the government has any intention or resolve of fulfilling its manifesto pledge to leave the CFP in March 2019 as Fisheries Minister George Eustice and DEFRA Secretary of State have continually reiterated.
This demand is cynical and hypocritical in equally big measures. Nowhere else is access to fisheries included as negotiating collateral for a free trade agreement.
For an EU that’s keen to avoid ‘cherry picking’ they are after the sweetest of them all – to continue pillaging £3-4 billion pounds of fish from our rich resources that were sacrificed to the EU to join.
That means there is no legal basis for this demand! Article 50 unequivocally terminates the CFP on March 2019 and all our waters and resources automatically return to us on withdrawal.
The only way fishing can be included is if Our government capitulates to this demand and sacrifices what’s left of Britain’s fishing”.
The EU has put a gun to Mrs Mays head with this demand which is now an immediate “acid test” that she either resoundingly rebuffs or capitulates to – the time for platitudes is over.
Mrs May either backs Mr Gove and Eustice’s welcome calls to scrap the CFP on March 2019 and tells the EU to ‘sod off’ to fulfill her government’s commitment to leave the CFP or capitulates and sacrifices fishing a 2nd time which would see the conservatives obliterated in coastal constituencies from Cornwall to NE Scotland.
Immediately after the EU draft was leaked Chancellor Philip Hammond was asked about post-Brexit fishing rights, which led to some journalists present fears the government are ready to trade fishing away for deals on other things.
Philip Hammond said; “I haven’t had the chance yet to read the EU guidelines but it doesn’t surprise me that their position in their guidelines is ‘we would like a great deal of the thing that the British will be reluctant to concede’ and very little at all on offer of the things that the British will regard as most important”.
“That is probably not a bad opening strategy for anyone engaged in a negotiation process, so I do think you have to see this as a negotiating strategy.”
He indicated the UK could be prepared to grant EU trawlers access to British waters after Brexit, saying; “In terms of fishing, fishing is an ironically important British industry and we are very clear that we are taking control of our waters”.
“But of course we would be open to discussing with our EU partners about the appropriate arrangements for reciprocal access for our fishermen to EU waters and for EU fishermen to our waters”.
“We would have to negotiate the basis on which such an arrangement could be fair and appropriate for us.”
Theresa May’s official spokesman subsequently said; “how our fishing arrangements will work after Brexit is to be decided down the line but the key thing is we will have control of our waters and be in charge of the decision-making”.
The Spokesman added: “We are not going not be trading away fishing rights for other things.”
It is all very well negotiating on shared stocks as international law obliges an independent nation to do so and as Norway, Iceland and Faroe do, but they don’t ever link access and resources to trade or an economic partnership.
Any agreement of reciprocal access should be based on a needs must, equal barter basis. Not a continuation of the EU policy of equal access in all but name or as some sort of negotiating capital for other trade issues.
What the PM and Philip Hammond have said opens a pandoras box and flies in the face and contradicts what Michael Gove and George Eustice have repeatedly said most prominently at the EFRA committee before Christmas.
When Sheryll Murray asked – would access and trade be linked together unlike in Norway etc? Both ministers emphatically replied; “No”, that wouldn’t be.
FFL suspect the government is testing the water to see if they can get away with selling out coastal communities and constituencies for remain minded or city interests.