Fishing the first Brexit bright spot as confusion reigns

Fishing photo

Are we going to leave the Single Market or not? And what about the EU’s customs union? – a subject that never cropped up in the referendum debate last year. Do some politicians even know the difference between the two?

At the moment, we are seeing a great deal of confusion about the future direction of Brexit and for those of us outside Mrs May’s new cabinet, what we are reading in the media is leaving us none the wiser. the quality of press reporting has reached an all-time low, with uninformed speculation given free rein and undue weight placed on off-the-cuff comments.

Take, for instance, headline statements that Emmanuel Macron, France’s new President claimed that “Brexit could be reversed.” What he actually said was “Of course the door remains open, always open until talks come to the end. But it was a sovereign decision taken by the people to come out of the EU.” In other words, there remains a theoretical possibility that the UK government might change its mind, but no more than that.  Given the shock of last week’s General Election result, it is hard to see the any rowing back on Brexit given that the consequences for the Conservatives would be the worst crisis since 1846.

The terms “hard” and “soft” Brexit have been bandied about with very few people knowing what they actually mean.  By and large, the terms relate to a future trading arrangement with “hard” meaning leaving the Single Market (or perhaps the Customs Union, or maybe both??) and “soft” means remaining in one or both. But what about criminal justice or foreign policy? There are “hard and “soft” issues here, which few in the media are picking up.

In all this muddle, one thing is clear. From what we could discern of Mrs May’s Brexit agenda, it contained some worrying and unsatisfactory features, including too close a link with the EU’s military plans and an ongoing commitment to remain party to the European Arrest Warrant. The loss of her majority means that she cannot force through her plans for Brexit if they are widely seen as flawed. Indeed, it is possible that we could end up with a better Brexit deal, given that pressure groups and their supporters on the Tory back benches will have a lot more leverage than if we had ended up with a thumping Conservative majority.

In one particular policy area, fishing, we are already seeing evidence of this. Scotland was the one piece of good news for the Conservatives in an otherwise dismal result and several of the seats they won from the SNP include fishing communities. Ruth Davidson, the Scottish Conservative leader, campaigned strongly on the fisheries issue and has apparently spoken to Theresa May, insisting that the UK must leave the Common Fisheries Policy and manage its own waters right up to the 200 Nautical Mile/Median Point limit.

Given that Michael Gove, who has recently been appointed Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs , is the son of a man who worked in the fishing industry, there is every reason for being hopeful that the sensible post-Brexit fishing policy proposed by Fishing for Leave has a greater chance of being implemented.

So, amidst the current confusion, we are perhaps seeing the first bright light. As the dust settles, hopefully others will follow

 

Michael Gove’s Appointment – 200 mile Clarity Crucial

Fishing for Leave welcomes Michael Gove’s appointment as Secretary of State for Defra.

Press officer Alan Hastings said “FFL are happy given his family connections to fishing and his Brexit credentials and hope he does both justice”.

“Although Defra is not Mr Gove’s previous specialty his intellectual capacity should surmount not having had the Defra brief before, and we look forward to working with and engaging with him to bring him up to speed on one of the acid tests of Brexit”.

“Fishing can be a £6.3bn beacon of success for Brexit and can exorcise the betrayal by Edward Heath”.

“We must realise the opportunity to automatically repatriate all our waters and resources and to rejuvenate coastal communities with bespoke British policy that husbands our unique ecology, works for all fishermen and ends the policy of discards”.

“This opportunity cannot be squandered for the status quo to appease a minority of vested interests and the EU”.

FFL sounded a warning that, the deliberately ambiguous wording of the Conservative manifesto to describe the waters we will take back control of says those we have “historically exercised sovereign control. This deliberate choice of words can only mean out to 12 miles”.

“When international limits were extended to 200 miles Britain was already bound to the Common Fisheries Policy and therefore the EU automatically took control of our extended fishing limits”.

“Although the previous Secretary of State said the manifesto meant all UK waters Mrs Leadsom is now gone.

“It is now necessary for clarity and closure that Mr Gove and the Prime Minister commit to the entire UK EEZ out to 200miles or the midline”.

“We hope and wish Mr Gove every success in realising the opportunity for a triumph of Brexit and look forward to meeting with him to help ensure this happens”.

Conservative Manifesto – PM May Fail on Fishing

CIB’s first post-referendum rally

So much has happened since 14th May 2016 when we staged our last rally. On that occasion, our Chairman, Edward Spalton, pointed out that it could be the last rally before we gained our freedom. Forty days later came that historic vote, but there is much to do before we will be totally free of the EU’s clutches. Even so, looking back on last year’s event, it is hard to believe that we are finally on the way out, with a new Prime Minister who has pledged herself to honour the Brexit vote and has already triggered Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, thus formally beginning the withdrawal process.

Our first speaker, Patrick O’Flynn MEP, will be one of those who will lose his job when we finally withdraw, but he didn’t seem too perturbed about it. He said that UKIP will be putting country before party and does not intend to field a full slate of candidates in the forthcoming general Election. A distinction will be made between long-standing consistent Brexit supporters, especially if they only held their seats with small majorities, and those he called “five-minute-to-midnight” converts to the Brexit cause. His concluding remarks were particularly well received:- Remainiacs were welcome to campaign to reverse the result, he said, but it would take forty years by which time the EU would no longer be in existence.

The next speaker was retired ambassador Leonidas Chrysanthopoulos, who described in graphic detail the ongoing problems faced by Greece as a result of the EU-imposed austerity package. The Greek sovereign debt crisis began as far back as 2009 and the enforced belt-tightening has ruined the country, with the death rate having increased dramatically. Furthermore, in spite of massive spending cuts, the country’s debt to GDP ratio has got worse. It was 146.2% in 2010 but by 2016, it had risen to 179%. Ambassador Chrysanthopoulos is a member of EPAM, a Greek anti-EU campaign group with whom CIB has had links that go back a number of years.

Based on his own country’s unhappy dealings with the EU in recent years, he advised the UK to walk away from the negotiations  if the EU presents insurmountable obstacles. The timing of his words is remarkable as his compatriot Yanis Varoufakis, the former finance minister, had been extensively quoted by Ambrose Evans-Pritchard in the Daily Telegraph only the previous day warning of the difficulties of negotiating with the EU.

Philip Benwell from the Australian Monarchist League made us all feel very ashamed as he described the sense of betrayal felt in his country when we abandoned our Commonwealth friends to join what was then the European Economic Community. Some of us had not previously realised the economic impact on the agricultural sector in Australia and New Zealand by Edward Heath’s wicked deceit, nor that it was a factor in the rise of republicanism in Australia. Of course, that sector has now recovered but, as Mr Benwell reminded us, the result of our flirtation with Brussels is that Asia and China in particular has replaced the UK as the main trading partner.

There is nonetheless considerable enthusiasm within the Australian government to open trade talks with the UK, but Mr Benwell was looking for one particular gesture of goodwill from the UK government in return. Immigration controls in a post-Brexit UK should no longer group other subjects of Her Majesty as aliens and that we should all share a common immigration channel. His organisation, which has 40,000 members including plenty of young people, has campaigned against this discrimination for some years but has thus far been snubbed by pro-EU civil servants.

After a short break, Luise Hemmer Pihl from the Danish People’s Movement against the EU (Folkebevægelsen mod EU) reminded us that we are not the only country with a long-standing history of opposition to the EU’s encroachment upon the nation state. She mentioned the various referendums in which the Danish people had consistently rejected further integration, including a recent vote to pull out of Europol. Like all our like-minded friends across the water, her organisation was greatly encouraged by the Brexit vote.

The last speaker, John Ashworth from Fishing for Leave, will need no introduction to regular readers of this website. His most recent book, Seizing the Moment, has been published by the Campaign for an Independent Britain. Continuing the theme of how awkward the EU can be as a negotiating partner, he told us how obstructive it was when Greenland voted to leave and only the threat to close its waters to (what were then) EEC vessels forced Brussels to agree a deal.

The film Witness to History concluded the afternoon’s programme. Lasting 35 minutes, it features a fascinating interview with Lord Walsingham, who worked in the Foreign Office when plans for the European Iron and Steel Community were being discussed in 1950. His concerns about the UK signing up to a project which was ultimately designed to weaken our heavy industry, along with his opposition to the denazification policy being pursued by the Americans led him to resign and fight in the Korean war instead.

Before the speakers gave their presentations, one man who has been a consistent opponent of our EU membership ever since being present in the House of Commons in the evening of that fateful vote on the Accession Treaty in 1972 was presented with a silver salver by our Chairman, Edward Spalton. George West, who has been President of the Campaign for an Independent Britain since taking over from Lord Stoddart on his retirement, has decided to stand down.  Readers will, I am sure, wish Mr West all the best for the future and thank him for his contribution to the cause of independence.

SNP confusion over fishing policy

The roots of the SNP lie in the fishing communities of the North East of Scotland. The recent desire for Scottish independence, in other words, was borne out of a desire to regain national control over fisheries, which by then were under control of the EU’s Common Fisheries Policy.

Now, of course, the SNP seems hell-bent on securing a further referendum on independence in order to rejoin the EU after Brexit. That, however, would mean rejoining the Common Fisheries Policy – and on even more disadvantageous terms than the present arrangements.

So what are we to make of those SNP MPs who have signed a pledge that would protect fishermen by, in effect, keeping Scotland out of the EU?

Signatories include Mike Weir, the party’s chief whip, and Banff and Buchan MP Eilidh Whiteford. The pledge could not be more specific:- “We must avoid any policy, practice, regulation or treaty which could return us to the Common Fisheries Policy and the enforced giveaway of almost two-thirds of our fish stocks.” If this doesn’t mean staying out of the EU after Brexit, what does it mean?

True, the Conservatives, under Michael Howard, considered repatriating UK fisheries policy without leaving the EU, using the so-called “notwithstanding” clause which allowed the Westminster Parliament to enact legislation “any provisions of the European Communities Act notwithstanding” – in other words, to override the EU. Would Scotland, however, newly back into the EU fold, wish to embark on such a confrontational act, even assuming the Scottish Parliament actually possessed similar powers?

While Dr Whiteford insisted that the party’s policy “has always been consistent” in its opposition to CFP, the charges of hypocrisy levelled by Murdo Fraser, a Scottish Conservative MEP and fellow-signatory, are not without foundation. Ultimately, the SNP has a choice. Does it want to seize the opportunities provided by Brexit to rebuild the Scottish fishing industry or does it want to complete the work begun by Edward Heath in wrecking Scotland’s coastal communities completely by dragging the country back into the EU and thus the Common Fisheries Policy it was formed to oppose? It cannot do both.

Photo by stusmith_uk

Conservatives Must Exorcise the Betrayal of Britain’s Fishing

Press release from Fishing for Leave

Fishermen’s organisation Fishing for Leave have questioned the government’s electoral resolve on repatriating Britain’s fishing waters and resources that were so shamefully surrendered by Edward Heath as “expendable” in the rush to join the EEC.

They cite that the government’s continued failure to rescind the London Fisheries Convention 1964 is a tangible example that there is no commitment or resolve in government to take back national control of one of Britain’s greatest national resources.

Fishing for Leave spokesman Alan Hastings said “By failing to serve the 2 years notice it the London Convention requires at the same time as Article 50, EU vessels will still have unfettered access to fish in UK waters between 6 and 12 nautical miles after UK withdrawal from the EU”.

“By continuing to prevaricate on scrapping this Convention the government has squandered the opportunity to take back control of all our fishing waters as per international law and in doing so secure the strongest diplomatic hand of controlling all access”.

“Reclaiming our fishing waters and resources can give more sustainable management and would be worth £6.3 billion and which will rejuvenate coastal communities by creating tens of thousands of jobs”.

“A Conservative government must exorcise the abject betrayal of Britain’s fishing and coastal communities and correct the past injustices inflicted on them as they were sacrificed to the EU by politicians complicit in the EUs agenda”.

“A Conservative government must categorically commit to reclaiming all sovereignty and control over UK waters. To scrapping the London Convention, to not adopting the CFP with the Great Repeal Bill for political convenience and to commit to implementing an entirely new, uniform UK policy that will rejuvenate the industry across the whole UK and end the shameful rules that force fishermen to discard upto 50% of their catch”.

 “All it would take is for Mrs May, Conservative MPs and party to show political will and determination by giving a cast iron manifesto commitment on fishing which can be a beacon of success and one of the “acid tests” for the government on Brexit”.

MIKE HOOKEM

EU Fisheries Committee MEP Mike Hookem joined in the criticism of the governments inaction and commitment on Fishing saying “I am yet to be convinced that Theresa Mays government has any intention of repatriating UK fishing to our sovereignty”.

“Time and again in the EU parliament we see British MEPs voting down amendments that aim to repatriate sovereignty to this country.  The fact is the political establishment are so intertwined with the EU that they cannot see the wood from the trees and understand what is best for Britain”.

“Look at towns Like Grimsby, Lowestoft, Whitby, Fleetwood and any of the other traditional port that have had their livelihoods decimated and their communities destroyed through the political establishment sell out to the CFP”.

“We now have an opportunity to regenerate and reinvest in these fishing communities and make them the thriving hubs of industry once more. All it would take is the political will and determination to rebuild the ports and towns that have suffered at politicians hands in the past”