“Tied up with red tape”: Carmichael challenges Prime Minister on fishing visa chaos

19 Apr 2023

Fishermen in the Northern Isles and across the country have seen their ability to fish severely hampered in recent days due to the policy shift, with some unable to go to sea at all.

Speaking during Prime Minister’s Questions, Mr Carmichael said:

“Last week the Home Office announced that they would not be setting up a bespoke visa scheme for the fishing industry, of the sort that is already available for people working in fish farms and offshore wind farms. They also told skippers that crew previously employed under the temporary scheme had to stop working immediately.

“As a consequence of that announcement, in fishing ports around the coast today, many fishing boats are tied up, unable to go to sea.

“It’s the only time that the Home Secretary has been successful at her stated ambition of ‘stopping the boats’.

“The Prime Minister and his party promised our fishermen a sea of opportunity. What is the point of a sea of opportunity if you can’t get crew to fish in it?”

Responding, the Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said:

“I’m not sure that I recognise the characterisation the gentleman put forward. We are proud champions of the UK’s fishing industry. We are always looking to engage with them to make sure that they get the support that they need and the opportunities that are there for them because of Brexit.”

Reacting after the exchange, Mr Carmichael said:

“The Prime Minister is clearly ignorant of the issues facing fishermen as a result of Suella Braverman’s chaotic policymaking but that is no excuse. Fishermen are tied up at the quays tangled in Home Office red tape.

“The numbers of workers and vessels affected may be small but they represent a vital part of our isles economy – and the knock-on effects to the processing and food production sectors will be far-reaching.

“This is an urgent issue and the complacent response from the government is not good enough. We need proper answers and a change of course now.”

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