El Dorado: Boris Johnson likens Brexit gains to city paved with gold that did not exist

Prime minister rejects industry’s characterisation of Brexit deal as fishing sell-out

Jon Stone
Policy Correspondent
Wednesday 20 January 2021 14:16 GMT
PM promises British fishing fleets ‘Eldorado’ after Brexit

Boris Johnson has promised British fishermen a Brexit "El Dorado" once problems caused by his new border bureaucracy have been dealt with.

Fisherman have warned they are losing their livelihoods as delays caused by Brexit red tape decimate their export business to continental Europe.

But speaking in the Commons on Wednesday prime minister said his Brexit deal would be good for the industry, likening the future to the mythical Spanish city rumoured to be paved with gold.

El Dorado notably did not exist, a fact eventually established by explorers after numerous failed expeditions that often ended in death from hunger and disease.

Asked at prime minister's questions why he had previously falsely told fishermen they "would not face new export barriers or unnecessary form-filling", the prime minister said Brexit would eventually "deliver".

"It is absolutely true that some British fishermen have faced barriers at the present time owing to complications over form-filling and indeed one of the biggest problems is that, alas, there is a decline in appetite for fish in continental markets just because most of the restaurants, as he knows, are shut," he said.

"The reality is that Brexit will deliver and is delivering a huge uplift in quota, already the next five years, and by 2026 the fishing people of this country will have access to all the fish in all the territorial waters of this country.

"To get them ready for that El Dorado, we're investing £100 million in improving our boats, our fish processing industry and getting fishing ready for the opportunities ahead."

But despite the prime ministers' claim of a "huge" uplift in quota, the deal in fact only raises the UK share by about 25 per cent, according to the most optimistic estimates.

“In the end-game, the prime minister made the call and caved in on fish, despite the rhetoric and assurances,” the National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisations said after the deal was signed.

"“There will of course be an extensive public relations exercise to portray the deal as a fabulous victory, but it will inevitably be seen by the fishing industry as a defeat.”

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