Fishing – Keep up the pressure!

Most readers will have head about Fishing for Leave’s demonstration against the surrender of our fishing industry outside Parliament yesterday. Although a much smaller scale event than the flotilla of fishing boats which sailed down the Thames in June 2016, a valid point was made.

Growing Parliamentary opposition to the surrender on fishing could scupper the whole transitional deal, which would  unquestionably be a good thing. In order to keep up the pressure on our MPs, if you haven’t already done so, please sign this petition and pass it on to your friends.

Fishing could be a real Brexit success story. It is an iconic industry and fishermen enjoy widespread public support, especially given their scandalous treatment since 1973 in order to join the European project. The Government has apparently been taken aback by the scale of the protest over the surrender on fishing. Sadly, as the linked article suggests, this suggests that “Theresa May’s team has never entirely “got” Brexit”. Perhaps, but this is no excuse for such an unnecessary sell-out and we must make it very clear to them that it is unacceptable.


An Irish view on the current state of Brexit

By Anthony Coughlan


Dear British Friends,

May I send you for your information a consensus assessment on the current EU/UK negotiations by a group of Irish lawyers and economists who are sympathetic to Brexit that has been convened by the undersigned.

We can now begin to see the outline of what might happen in the UK/EU negotiations. We see events unfolding broadly as follows:-

(a) The UK and the EU reach an agreement (including about the divorce bill) that gives the UK access to the single market while allowing the UK to leave the customs union and the jurisdiction of the ECJ and to control its borders regarding free movement of people… NO CHANCE.

(b) The talks break down and are abandoned with the UK and the EU going their separate ways next March … UNLIKELY

(c) Agreement is reached at a Heads of Government summit in early 2019 that meets the UK’s basic requirements, including about the divorce bill and access to the single market but involves free movement of people continuing in practice if not in theory … UNLIKELY

(d) The House of  Commons overrules the Brexit vote and the UK abandons Brexit … UNLIKELY BUT POSSIBLE 

(e) – (1) Following the refusal  of the House of  Commons to overturn the Brexit vote, there is a second summit in Brussels and agreement is reached broadly along the lines of (c )… UNLIKELY

(e) – (2) Following the refusal of  the House of Commons to overturn the Brexit vote, the UK accepts tough terms in a  bitter summit that restores the UK’s independence but on economic terms that are difficult and that will require the British to dig deep to swallow …. LIKELY

We do not believe that (c) will be the outcome as the EU is banking on (d), as is Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and the Irish Establishment generally, so it would be irrational of them to make any concessions ahead of (e) night.

It is not in the interest of the EU Commission negotiating team to concede anything until (d) is tested to destruction in the House of Commons and elsewhere.  If (d) is indeed the outcome it will be a great victory for the Euro-federalists/career federalists but the political situation in Britain will become highly unstable.

Scenario (d) has become more likely as Jeremy Corbyn and his colleagues have sniffed the possibility that Labour might get into office following a general election if Mrs May’s Government can be defeated on Brexit in the House of Commons

The Remainer interest in the UK is increasingly determined to reverse Brexit. Tony Blair’s involvement was to be expected but one would have expected John Major,  as someone who said “No” to the euro, to support an agreed UK position based on the democratic decision of the British people in the 2016 referendum.  One would have expected him to recognize that the EU is not as strong as it believes itself, and portrays itself, to be and that a united United Kingdom could secure an adequate deal. However, for whatever reason (perhaps City pressure) he has joined the Remainer interest.

Clearly, behind the scenes, the British Establishment, notably the City but also the media, has been bringing very, very heavy pressure to bear on decision-makers to abandon Brexit. The British Government is reluctant to have a second referendum – such a proposal might get through Parliament but would split the Tory party probably permanently, but that is less important to the Remainer interest than reversing Brexit.

They are reluctant not only because they might lose a second referendum but because it would put Britain into the same category as Ireland so far as EU bullying is concerned.

Their second option would be a general election but that could  return Corbyn. So every effort will be made to reverse Brexit through the House of Commons. That makes Corbyn the pivotal figure in the coming period. It is also the reason why in Ireland Sinn Féin is coming under pressure from the Irish Establishment to reverse its abstentionist policy and attend at Westminster and vote against Mrs May and the DUP on Brexit.

UK democrats who accept the British people’s referendum vote need to know who the key players are in the drive to reverse Brexit. They are the European Commission, the Irish Government and Establishment, and the British Remainers.

The Commission opposes Brexit because it could well mean the end of the … EU Commission. The Irish Government and Establishment oppose it because it throws into sharp relief the decision of the Irish State to reject two solemn constitutional referenda on EU issues and Irish policy at present is being made entirely by career federalists.  And the British Remainers oppose Brexit because some of them have lost their nerve while others have contempt for democracy.

Brexiteers  need to be clear and blunt about who is trying to reverse Brexit and why. It may get rough and nasty but they have no other choice. They need to ask why people like John Major have failed to see how weak the EU is and why some Remainers, who are democrats but who have lost their nerve, have failed to see that, other than the three groups trying to reverse Brexit, the rest of the EU – namely the Governments of the Member States apart than Ireland and the media and opinion formers in those Member States – have accepted Brexit and would be quite happy to see a reasonable deal being done.

It is our view that it will only be after D-Day has passed next March and Brexit has legally proceeded – unless is has been reversed by the House of Common before then – that a  UK/EU deal will be done.

At some point, the Member States on the Continent are bound to call time on the Ireland issue, whose significance has been grossly exaggerated. Their embassies in Dublin will be telling them that North/South trade within Ireland is tiny by comparison with Republic/British trade and minute in comparison with EU trade as a whole.

Their Dublin embassies will also be telling them that the UK’s proposal to treat most Irish cross-border North-South trade, which is small and local, as something essentially to be finessed by trusted-trader and associated arrangements, makes every sense.

Their embassies will also be telling them that the British and Irish Governments should do a deal on cross-border trade so that it is taken off the table as a problem. Such a deal could be done.

Their embassies will be telling them that the Northern Ireland is, increasingly obviously, being used in an attempt to reverse Brexit and that the Continental Member States should not stand for that any longer.

All the weeping and gnashing of teeth by the Irish Establishment about how incompetent the British supposedly are in the negotiations is just another way of saying, as Peter Sutherland said the day after the UK referendum, that Brexit must be overturned.

The Irish Establishment is so saturated in europhilia that it refuses  to face up to the fact that the  Republic and its people would be much better off if they left the EU along with the UK  – thereby  instantly removing any North-South Border problems.  While numerous studies have been commissioned on the bad effects of Brexit on Ireland if the UK leaves the EU while the Republic remains in it, it is a startling fact that not a single study has been made of the pros and cons of the Republic leaving the EU alongside the UK, apart from that mentioned below.

What matters now is that Brexit goes ahead legally next March, and not the detailed terms for the post-Brexit period, which will be open to evolution anyway.  One might recall the Anglo-Irish Treaty of 1921, which was regarded as quite limited at the time but which the Irish Free State built on and went on to establish complete Irish independence.

Once the UK is out of the EU, trade will continue as traders like to trade, have always traded and always will. Far too much emphasis is being placed on the details of the post-Brexit trade agreement because that is what bureaucrats and journalists know about. They know very little about trade.

Although the EU is much weaker as an entity than most people believe it to be , or portray it as –  a weakness which the European Commission has been exploiting in the negotiations so far – the Continental Member States  are more than strong enough collectively to assert themselves and overrule the Commission/Irish Government Axis that has been running the show, on the EU side, since the negotiations began – if and when they come to a realization that THEIR interests require them to do that.

N.B.  The group of Irish lawyers and economists who are responsible for this statement produced a Private Study Paper last year, “Why Brexit should be accompanied by Irexit (Ireland Exit)”, drafted by the undersigned, which is available on request at a cost of £10/€15.

Anthony Coughlan


(Associate Professor Emeritus in Social Policy, Trinity College Dublin)

Draft Exit Agreement: Deep concerns over defence component

This is a comment from Lt-General Jonathon Riley (ex-ISAF deputy commander) and ex-military colleagues expressing deep concerns over the defence component of the Draft Exit Agreement:

“The exit agreement shows that the Cabinet Office does not intend to regain the defence autonomy it gave away on paper in 2017.

As a result of a below-radar deal reached 15 months ago, the UK will now be transitioning via a third country arrangement, that provides a u-bend route for the UK to come back fully under EU authority in the future.

Political commentators in academia and the media are largely yet to grasp the small print of what is really going on. By that time, it will of course be too late.

It’s not wise to stand still in setting concrete and that’s what this transition agreement amounts to in terms of defence.”

Lt-Gen Riley is ex-ISAF deputy commander and a former commander of UK forces sent to Bosnia, Sierra Leone and Iraq.

His cosignatories to the statement are:

Maj-Gen Julian Thompson (former commander of landings in the Falklands),

Rear-Admiral Roger Lane-Nott (former Flag Officer Submarines, NATO Commander Submarines Eastern Atlantic)

Professor Gwythian Prins

(with thanks to our colleagues in Veterans for Britain for this article)

Please sign this petition on defence

Ensure the UK leaves all EU defence rules, policies and structures on 29/03/19.

Please sign this petition and pass on to all your friends.

10,000 signatures are needed to force the government to reply.

Since November 2016, the UK has joined all parts of the EU’s “defence union” except one, without any vote by MPs. These include finance, command centre and a central budget. If the UK stays in them or if any of them go into an exit agreement, as the Government has proposed, the UK will not have left the EU.

For more details, please click on the links below:-

Why are we forsaken?

A Heartfelt Letter by Fishermen Who Feel Forsaken

My name is Steve Barratt and I live in Ramsgate Kent. I work in an industry that is not wanted by either the EU or the UK Government and everything that could have possibly been done to stop me from going to work has been done.

I expect alarm bells are ringing as to what I actually do for a living, could I be a drug runner, a people trafficker, an internet hacker, a hit man or something similar?

Well, you will be pleased to know that I am none of the above – I am in fact a commercial fisherman operating an inshore, under 10m boat out of Ramsgate Harbour.

I work in a mixed fishery and catch quite a variety of fish such as cod, bass, plaice, skate, dogfish, dover sole and many more. It is impossible to avoid these fish when in a situation whereby I have no quota for a particular species.

When I catch fish with no quota the EU ruling is that I must return it to the sea. In most cases these fish are dead or have little chance of survival. The EU are aware of this and despite receiving many protests and plea’s to change the quota system are not prepared to do so.

They are hell bent on making everyone abide by the CFP (Common Fisheries Policy). This is an inept quota system where fish can only be landed if quota is available. If quotas not available, they have to be dumped dead into the sea.

To make matters worse, the UK Government is hell bent on enforcing these rules and regulations. They have employed numerous people and organisations to police any fish landings that are made in the UK.

The EU has decreed skates and rays are ‘endangered’ and have given virtually no quota for this species. Fishermen are seeing an explosion in skates and rays, they are everywhere, yet because quotas don’t reflect this we have to dump skate dead into the sea.

We then have to keep catching and dumping skate as we try to catch other fish to make a living. This makes it impossible for a boat to be profitable and does nothing for conservation.

Our Government needs to be held to account over this gross miscarriage of justice and the rules and regulations need to change to provide the industry with a better way of operating. Unfortunately, this cannot be done until we successfully leave the EU.

Only then will we be able to take back control of our territorial waters, abolish the Common Fisheries Policy and implement a better and more sustainable method of management of the industry – the government can’t keep the status quo for the sake of the fishermen or the fish.

Under no circumstances can this industry be involved in any so-called transition period where we’re stuck in the CFP. Out must be out on 29th March next year before what is left of the British fishing industry is consigned to museum and memory.

Welcome Intervention from Mr Gove & Ms Davidson Needs Clarity

Fishermen’s organisation Fishing for Leave strongly welcomed Mr Gove and Ms Davidson’s words but say more clarity is needed and the government needs to stop playing semantics.

Michael Gove and Ruth Davidson’s interventions come days after it seemed that senior government figures would fail to rebuff the EUs demand that a condition of a Free Trade Agreement is continuation of; “existing reciprocal access to fishing waters and resources”.

Mr Gove and Mrs Davidson stated their commitment that;

“As we leave the EU, we want the UK to become an independent coastal state, negotiating access annually with our neighbours….. the Prime Minister has been clear: Britain will leave the CFP as of March 2019”.

Fishing for Leave says it is welcome that both have lent their support to this but say where this turns south and these statements can ring hollow is they are impossible to fulfil if fishing is trapped in a transition and clarity is needed on this.

They it is an admission that fishing will be in a transition in the words;

“during the implementation period we will ensure that British fishermen’s interests are properly safeguarded.”

Alan Hastings of FFL said “It’s stating the obvious that the UK will officially “leave” the CFP on March 2019 as our membership ceases under Article 50. However, the transition means re-obeying all EU law after we leave meaning Brexit In Name Only (BRINO)”.

“During a transition the EU can enforce any detrimental legislation to cull the UK fleet which makes the pledge to safeguard British fishermen and a bright future academic and hollow”.

“There’s been well publicised representations to the government and MPs that being trapped in a transition will see a large proportion of the UK fleet culled under forthcoming inept EU policy that is already agreed”.

“This would allow the EU to use international law (Article62.2 of UNCLOS) to claim the “surplus” resources the UK would no longer have the fleet capacity to catch”.

“So why does the government stop playing semantics and clearly state in unequivocal terms not that we ‘leave the CFP’ but that there will be no continuation of it in any way shape or form post 2019?”

“Until that assurance is forthcoming everything else is a PR exercise playing on words that folk are getting sick fed up with regards Brexit”.


FFL commend sboth Mr Gove and Ms Davidson for reinforcing that “we agree we must deliver a fairer allocation for the British fleet in our own waters”.  This echoes the PMs speech of “fairer allocation of fishing opportunities for the UK fishing industry.”

Fishing for Leave highlighted that under international law and ‘zonal attachment’ a nation is entitled to a proportion of any shared stocks based on the abundance of that stock in its waters.

Alan continued; “We hope and look forward to Mr Gove and Defra publicising that a “fair share” is no less than the 750,000 tons of fish the EU catches in British waters every year that are rightfully ours in exchange for the 90,000 tons we catch in theirs”.

“Anything less than fulfilling the government’s commitment to work under international law and therefore this international premise of zonal attachment would see a token gesture towards fairer shares”.

It’s music to hear senior politicians acknowledge and advocate that “We believe it is vital that we regain control over our own fisheries management…. we both agree that our fishing industry stands to benefit from our departure from the common fisheries policy”

“It is vital that the opportunity of repatriating the 60% of the fish the EU catches in British waters, which could double the British fishing industry’s worth to £6-8bn every year, is achieved”.

“FFL looks forward to the government substantiating the welcome whispers from Defra that new UK policy will give fair opportunity to all fishermen under a more sustainable management system to see the dividend of repatriating our waters help to rejuvenate coastal communities”.

“This is needed to replace the environmentally disastrous CFP which has forced consolidation to ever fewer boats and ports but if it is vital to regain control and they recognise fishing an benefit why trap fishing in a transition for 21months where the EU can move the goal posts?”


There is still no rebuttal to the PMs speech and Philip Hammond’s suggestion on agreeing shares and access to UK waters as a giveaway for a wider deal.

The PM said;

As part of a new economic partnership we want to continue to work with the EU to manage shared stocks in a sustainable way and to agree reciprocal access to waters

This statement and Hammond’s comments openly state that fishing will be tied and sacrificed as negotiating capital for a new economic partnership.

All this flies in the face of Mr Gove and George Eustice’s earlier comments at an EFRA Select Committee that fishing access and resources wouldn’t be tied to wider trade negotiations.

It’s time for the government to come out fighting to unequivocally succeed on this “acid test” by clearly saying there will be continuation or any ties to the CFP after March 2019 and that we really will take back control.