Theresa May Admits Fishing Will Be Trapped In A Transition

Fishing for Leave Scorn Theresa Mays Political Spin and Give Damning Indictment of Government Strategy

On Monday 18th December Theresa May told MPs:

  • “We will be leaving the Common Fisheries Policy on March 29, 2019 and the Common Agricultural Policy as I indicated”.

However, this is no commitment nor is it an indication of a clean Brexit for fisheries. Those who say so are either being mendacious or naive to the reality of the position the government is digging itself into with pursuit of a “transition” deal.

However, the mask slipped to the truth when the PM continued that;

  • Leaving the CFP and leaving the CAP” wouldn’t give the opportunity until post that implementation(transition) period – to actually introduce arrangements that work for the United Kingdom.     The arrangement that pertains the fisheries during that implementation period will, of course, be part of the negotiations for that implementation period”.

The first sentence sounds fantastic, but the rest of the statement is a thinly veiled admission that although the UK may have officially left the CFP it will still follow the CFP as part of a transition and only diverge after the transition.

Worse the PM admits that fishing will be on the negotiating table to obtain that implementation – the rhetoric of “leaving” the CFP isn’t going to be matched by results


Fishing for Leave scorned Theresa Mays political spin

“It is a legal matter of fact that we will officially leave the EU and with that the disastrous Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) at the end of the Article 50 period.  It’s not a question of do we leave, it is a question of what we do thereafter that is of grave concern and that fishing will be part of negotiations for that transition period”

“A “transition” period where we re-agree to obeying ALL EU law and will maintain “full regulatory alignment” is terrifying – we may have officially “left the CFP” but we’ll be locked into running a mirror image when we could walk away under Article 50 and automatically regain all control under international law– the Prime Minister is politically spinning with a forked tongue”


At last week’s Council of minister’s the EU reiterated what the EU Commission has clearly stated that agreeing to a “transition” period will mean obeying ALL EU law, including new laws, after Britain officially leaves the EU under the Article 50 procedure.

  • Quote – Michel Barnier – Speech Rome – 21st Sept. ‘17
    “On the 29 March 2019, the UK will leave the EU and will become a third country…without a withdrawal agreement, there is no transition – this is a point of law.
    If we are to extend for a limited period the Acquis of the EU, then logically
    this would require existing Union regulatory, budgetary, supervisory, judiciary and enforcement instruments and structures to apply.       

If this wasn’t clear enough to HM Government President of the European Council Mr Tusk reiterated the same words again at the conclusion of Phase 1 talks on 8th December

  • Quote – Donald Tusk – Phase 1 talks – 8th Dec. ‘17
    “As you know the UK has asked for a transition of about 2 years while remaining part of the single market and customs union…during this period the UK will respect the whole of EU law including new law”. Existing Union regulatory, budgetary, supervisory, judiciary and enforcement instruments and structures will also apply”.

Article 50 clearly says “the treaties (all EU law) shall cease to apply” at the end of the Article 50 period at 11pm on 29th March ’19.  This means Britain is out the entire EU including the disastrous CFP.

To add further weight to this international law under Article 70 of the Vienna Convention says;

“the termination of a treaty does not affect any rights, obligations or legal situations created through the treaty…. unless the treaty otherwise provides or the parties otherwise agree”.

Quite clearly the EU has otherwise provided through Article 50, Section 3 of the TEU.
This means that by the EU 27 agreeing to end the treaties there is no recourse under international law for them to have any sway over Britain in terms of laws, courts, money or fishing policy.

However, as a “transition” period is part of the deal once we have left the EU under the provisions of Article 50 it is only in the EU’s gift to grant.

Therefore, as the EU has clearly stated, it is on their terms and to get a “transition” the UK will have to capitulate to obeying all EU law to cancel out the provision of Article 50.

The only way to do this is as part of a new deal after we legally leave on 29th of March – such an agreement would have to be ratified by a new Withdrawal treaty.

This means we will have re-joined the EU in all but name having to obey its laws and directives with no control or say in some sort of legal purgatory.

In effect the UK breaks the treaties and leaves under Article 50 of TEU and Article 70 Vienna Convention. Thereafter, the UK agrees under our own steam (in a new treaty) to continue to recognise EU laws and authority under this new agreement.

Conveniently all EU law will be hibernating on the UK statute book having been adopted with the EU Withdrawal Bill.

We officially “legally” Leave the CFP but under the governments current strategy we will have capitulated to being trapped in a transition in some sort of legal purgatory where we will be running a mirror of the CFP as some sort of vassal state.

Continuity of Rights

We have doubts that if the UK prostrates itself under a transition the UK will ever escape.

As re-obeying ALL EU law in a “transition” will be enshrined under a new treaty then “unless the treaty otherwise provides” Article 70 of the Vienna Convention says; “the termination of a treaty does not affect any rights, obligations or legal situations created through the treaty”.

This will allow the EU to claim continuity of rights if there is not a specific clause that rights, obligations or legal situations continued under the Withdrawal/Transition agreement cease to apply and/or are specifically time limited.

Along with Article 30, the Vienna Convention is a grey area & therefore could nail the UK governments feet to the floor in a protracted legal fight as the EU tries to support its interests by keeping the CFP going as long as possible.

CFP Time Bomb

By the time the UK escapes being trapped in a transition there will be very little industry left. This is what is terrifying for two reasons.

  1. By Having to Obey All EU law including new law whilst not being a member state means the EU can move the goal posts to finish off what is left of the British industry.
  2. The EU quota system causes discards as fishermen have to catch and discard fish to find what they can keep to match their quota. Th EU enacted a ban on the symptom (discards) rather than address the cause (quotas). This means as of 2019 when vessels exhaust their lowest quota to avoid discarding it must stop fishing. These “choke species” will decimate 60% of the UK fleet according to Seafish statistics.


It is an impossible contradiction for the UK to be free of the EU and the CFP and have a transition. Adopting all EU law and then agreeing to a transition whilst we obey that law flies in the face of ‘taking back control’ and exposes this country to huge risk legally.

Adoption and transposition of all EU laws onto the UK statute book with the EU Withdrawal Bill, conjoined with any post Brexit deal ratified by treaty (especially one with a “transition” period of continued adherence “regulatory alignment”) will nail this country’s feet to the floor.

The EU could initiate protracted legal proceedings to claim continuity of rights.

This is an existential threat and a huge risk that FFL feel must be averted lest the reclamation of sovereignty with Brexit is negated. Such a situation as outlined above is not worth the risk to maintain alignment to laws and policy the public voted to distance themselves from.

It is therefore CRITICAL that all EU laws (especially the CFP) are unequivocally abrogated by Article 50 on the 29th March 2019. HM Government should commit to NO adoption or continuation of the CFP into domestic legislation and to take the clean slate that Article 50 confers.

The government must do so with new UK policy that unequivocally claims and exercises sovereign jurisdiction over the entire UK EEZ as per international law and domestic legislation. In respect of subjects like fisheries this must be done by exempting the Fisheries Chapters of the Acquis from the EU Withdrawal Bill and/or by making cast iron provision within the Fisheries Bill to do so.

The governments remain bias is leading not only fishing but the country into a dangerous position. It would seem that the government is still trying to play at ‘being in Europe but not run by Europe’.

Trying to carve out a “deep and special partnership” that is just not on offer to re-frame some sort of half in half out relationship – Mr Hauge couldn’t get it, Mr Cameron couldn’t get it and the EU is clearly saying Mrs May isn’t getting it either.

We therefore call on the government to fulfil what it says it will do – properly and fully regain our sovereignty and independence provided by Article 50 – not trap us in transition as a vassal state to finish off Britain’s fishing industry and coastal communities when Brexit should be our salvation.