Alistair Carmichael, MP for Orkney and Shetland, has today again challenged the Prime Minister over her approach to fisheries in the EU negotiations following reports over the weekend that the French Government will force the UK into the backstop unless a deal under which French fishermen would have access to UK waters could be found.
Speaking in the House of Commons today, Mr. Carmichael said:
“The official note of yesterday’s council meeting states, and I quote: “a fisheries agreement is a matter of priority and should build on, inter alia, existing reciprocal access and quota shares.” When you compare that to the Prime Minister’s statement today, you can understand why our Fishermen are anxious. This situation only arises because the Prime Minister agreed to include Fisheries in the transitional arrangements. With the benefit of hindsight, does she now agree that was a mistake?”
Responding, the Prime Minister, the Rt. Hon. Theresa May MP, said:
“That is not the case. I think what he is quoting from is the minute of the Council meeting of the 27 which has a number of issues in it, which actually show that, yes other member states have concerns in relation to a number of these issues, partly they have these concerns because they were not able to arrive at the position they would have preferred to have in the political declaration we have agreed in our political statement that we have agreed with the European Union, because we have resolutely stood up for our fishermen.”
Speaking after the exchange, Mr. Carmichael said:
“For months now the Government have been promising different things to different people at different times. Clearly the European Union know what they want, and the minute of the 27 EU member states show that they will be coming for concessions at the expense of our fishing industry come negotiations on the future relationship.
“If the Prime Minister had resisted the EU on the transitional arrangements, she could have avoided this situation completely. By surrendering then, she left the door open for fisheries to be subject to a later deal, made at a time when the EU’s leverage would be even greater.”