Orkney and Shetland MP, Alistair Carmichael, has today spoken out against the “political management strategy” that led to fisheries being left out of the EU Withdrawal Agreement and under negotiate in trade talks. Speaking while contributing to the committee scrutinising legislation to translate the Common Fisheries Policy rules into UK law, Mr Carmichael voiced concern that the “Big Bang” of changes to fishing rights would again be delayed, falling short of promises made by the Conservatives to the fishing industry.
Speaking during the committee, Mr Carmichael said:
“It is in nobody’s interest that we should move literally into unregulated waters on the 1st of January. I think it is worth reflecting, however, that these regulations are the consequence of a political management strategy, that has been somewhat less than what was promised to the fishing industry right at the start.
“When Article 50 was triggered in March 2017, that anticipated that the UK would leave the European Union on the 29th March 2019. That was the point at which the industry was told that we would be coming out of the Common Fisheries Policy – that was going to be the “Big Bang” day. Had it been in part of the Withdrawal Agreement, this would all have happened by now.
“The Big Bang that was promised is still to come, and is not now going to come even on the 1st of January, as a consequence of the lack of political will to put fisheries into the Withdrawal Agreement, leaving it in the Political Declaration, which is where we are now.
“So, I have no interest in seeing fisheries left unregulated, but in saying that I think it is important that we do place on record that this falls very far short of what the industry was promised.”
Speaking afterwards, Mr Carmichael said:
“With just over three weeks to go it is clear that the Government is feeling the crunch in these negotiations. Time will tell what sort of deal they can secure but fishermen will be watching the detail on fisheries closely.”