Orkney and Shetland MP, Alistair Carmichael, has called on DEFRA Secretary George Eustice to resign after reports that the Government had privately admitted that a ban on live shellfish exports to the EU was in fact legal despite public denials. The U-turn from the Government came just hours after George Eustice stood in Parliament and claimed that the EU was in the wrong over the ban, which affects shellfish businesses across the UK, including some which have already closed permanently over the trade change. A DEFRA spokesperson sidestepped the claims, made by the Shellfish Association of Great Britain.
DEFRA ministers have been under pressure for weeks over a string of disruptions and losses for seafood exporters and fishermen, with the department accused of being permanently on the back foot on trading changes by critics, and of breaking promises made to the fishing industry by Brexit campaigners.
Mr Carmichael said:
“Yesterday George Eustice made a statement in Parliament blaming everyone else – today he has thrown in the towel. The seafood industries can no longer have confidence in anything he says. Problems that he and the Prime Minister created were initially dismissed as ‘teething problems’ but now are shown to be part of what the Government has negotiated for us. Government failures have left shellfish exporters picking up a hefty tab.
“It seems that George Eustice has no solutions left to offer. He should step aside and let somebody else fix this mess. It is difficult to see how he can remain in his job after this fiasco.”