Orkney and Shetland MP, Alistair Carmichael, has today called out the government after a minister claimed in Parliament that they were “taking back control” of UK territorial waters. The claim was made by Paymaster General, Michael Ellis MP during Cabinet Office questions, and was challenged by Mr Carmichael in light of the government’s failure to live up to promises made to fishermen before Brexit about control of UK waters and quota, and particularly access to the six-to-twelve-mile limit, which was ceded to the EU despite prior claims.
Challenging Mr Ellis on his claim, Mr Carmichael said:
“People in fishing communities will have been interested to hear the Paymaster General assert earlier that we were taking back control of our territorial waters. Can I invite him to clarify, when he says territorial waters, does he mean up to the six-mile, twelve-mile or two-hundred-mile limit?”
Responding, the Paymaster General, Michael Ellis MP said:
“I think he knows full well what is meant by British territorial waters and I would invite him to accept that it is this government that does everything that it needs to to protect our territorial waters.”
Reacting after the exchange, Mr Carmichael said:
“I do indeed know full well what is meant by territorial waters – as do fishermen. They know full well how this government abandoned their promises to the industry of “taking back control” of fishing grounds and instead used them as a bargaining chip in trade negotiations, leaving them with only chaos and lost trade. They know full well that despite assurances from ministers, enforcement of fisheries rules is uneven and hits our own boats harder than non-local vessels.
“I suspect that when the minister talked about doing “everything it needs to” in protecting territorial waters, he really meant the government’s madcap schemes in the English Channel. If this government put half the effort into fulfilling their promises to fishermen that they do in training jet ski immigration enforcers and dreaming up wave machines to blow boats away, then perhaps our fishing communities would not feel so forgotten. We know too well where their priorities really lie.”