Brexit transition deal will be voted down in Commons unless 'unacceptable' fishing rights proposals changed, Tory MPs warn

MPs including Jacob Rees-Mogg denounced the draft deal agreed in Brussels earlier this week

Ashley Cowburn
Political Correspondent
Wednesday 21 March 2018 12:43
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Nigel Farage throws dead fish into the Thames in protest over the Brexit transition deal

Thirteen Conservative MPs have warned Theresa May that her Brexit transition deal will be voted down in the Commons unless she tears up “unacceptable” proposals for fishing rights.

In a letter the backbenchers, including the chair of the European Research Group, Jacob Rees-Mogg, denounced the draft deal agreed by the Government in Brussels earlier this week.

The MPs’ letter also includes Sammy Wilson from the Democratic Unionist Party – responsible for propping up Ms May’s fragile Government in the Commons.

They demand that the UK must not remain party to the bloc’s common fisheries policy (CFP) after Brexit, in March 2019, and that Britain must have the ability to set its own fisheries policy.

It comes as the Prime Minister hopes a transition deal will be signed off at a meeting of EU leaders on Thursday at the European Council summit in Brussels. This will clear the way for negotiators to begin crucial talks on post-Brexit trade and the future UK-EU relationship.

Fisherman have pushed for the UK to regain full control over its waters in March 2019 but Brexit Secretary David Davis struck a deal with his EU counterpart Michel Barnier that leaves Britain subject to EU rules during the transition period that ends in December 2020.

The 14 MPs said this proposal for Britain effectively to remain in the CFP for almost two years after Brexit, with no say over the allocation of quotas, would not command the support of the Commons.

“These demands are completely unacceptable and would be rejected by the House of Commons,” they said.

It also follows a heated exchange in the Commons on Tuesday during which a series of Conservative MPs criticised the draft agreement and Michael Gove, the Environment Secretary, expressed his “disappointment” at the EU side’s unwillingness to move on the issue.

One Scottish Tory MP even said it would be easier to get people to “drink a pint of cold sick” than to persuade them the arrangement was a success.

In their letter, the MPs continue: “The European Commission’s draft withdrawal agreement envisages that the UK will remain in the CFP during the implementation period but with no say over EU policy or annual quotas.”

What could the sticking points be in the Brexit trade deal?

“The effect of ending discards during this period without compensating measures will be a further disaster for the UK’s already shattered fishing fleet, particularly for the inshore fleet, further eroding prosperity in vulnerable coastal communities.”

They also demand the Prime Minister indicates at the forthcoming EU meeting: “Leaving the European Union means setting our own fisheries policy from 29 March 2019. The UK will not remain party to the CFP during the proposed implementation period.”

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