Following today’s PMQs we are delighted both at how well Mr Paterson raised the point and welcome the new PMs answer.
It was good to hear Mr Johnson say that we will take full control and that fishing won’t be traded away as part of a wider agreement as Ted Heath reprehensibly did.
With his statement we at least have some comfort that we aren’t going lower than the current arrangements – unlike May’s rotten deal would have achieved.
FFL – and a public invested in their nation’s greatest renewable resource being repatriated – will hold him to that. Mrs May fatally undermined trust in the sanctity of despatch box statements, we hope Mr Johnson salvages this by proving he will deliver what he pledges.
However, what we do with the control we take back is still what rankles and concerns.
We would have cheered Boris like a winning penalty had he confirmed the government would heed Mr Paterson’s well put points, stating that his government would ensure that the UK would be like Norway and Iceland. Holding onto our rightful resources and withholding all access and swaps to those resources unless reciprocal annual deals were negotiated.
Then we would know we were going to aim above just taking back control merely to maintain the status quo on access and resources (as the DexEU Secretary Stephen Barclay confessed to the Brexit Select Committee last week) and instead were going to repatriate all our resources worth £6-8bn to help rejuvenate our coastal communities
To score an open and easy goal the Johnson government must legislate that the UK will not only take back control, but exercise that control exclusively for our national benefit – being in no way tied to or following the CFP – no different to Norway, Iceland and Faroe.
A roll over of current arrangements as suggested by Stephen Barclay under Mrs May’s tenure is totally unacceptable – especially when leaving gives us a clean slate as the EU recognises.
The new leadership must legislate that we will take back control of our rightful share of international Total Allowable Catches(TACs) based on the international principle of Zonal Attachment.
Crucially it must be legislated that the government will only ever agree any limited annual fisheries access or resource swaps where the UK receives a reciprocal value of fishing opportunities, and only once the EU recognises our rightful zonal attachment shares.
Only when all of the above – which is the bare minimum required to truly take back control – is legislated for in the Fisheries Bill will the Conservatives have exorcised the ghost of Ted Heath that Boris alluded to.
We hope the new administration delivers on all the above. Any less would squander a golden opportunity to prove and fulfil that the government means business on Brexit and in redeeming itself in the eyes of the electorate who see fishing as an acid test.