The Beginning of the End for Britain’s Fishing?

Fishermen’s Organisation Fishing for Leave highlight that the leaked (and soon after published) Government DRAFT TEXT FOR DISCUSSION: IMPLEMENTATION PERIOD detailing the Government position on the Transition deal show a deliberate effort to fashion Brexit in name only.

The group accuses the government of engineering terms that fly in the face of the biggest democratic instruction in British history.

The document says the government believes-

The UK believes this document demonstrates that there is broad alignment between the UK and EU positions, with only a small number of areas requiring discussion.

Has enraged most Brexiteers who see this as a brazen confession that the government sees “broad alignment in position” as an admission the government is prepared to capitulate what they see as the EUs stringent transition terms.

The Terms of the transition as that although the UK will have officially left the EU and no longer be a member the UK will re-agree to obey all EU law after we leave. Many back bench brexiteers with Jacob Rees-Mogg heading them say Britain would be reduced to being some sort of ‘vassal state’.

Fishing for Leave say the document is a sneaky admission of the disastrous situation the government are digging not only fishing but the country as a whole

NOTES
The official terms in Article X+4 – Specific arrangements relating to Fisheries Policy – say;

[Paragraph 1] As regards the fixing and allocation of fishing opportunities … for any period prior to the end of the Period (i.e. the transition), the EU and the UK shall agree the fishing opportunities related to the UK prior to the decision-making process within the Council. The United Kingdom shall participate alongside the EU and other coastal States in international fisheries negotiations.

The changes to paragraph [1] are to clarify the need for agreement between the UK and the EU with regards fishing opportunities during the (transition) Period, in advance of the formal processes at the December Fisheries Council, in which the UK will no longer have voting rights. The changes also reflect the consequences of the UK’s status as a third country for participation in negotiations with other coastal states.

They say that the text above is an admission that the government has to engineer an arrangement to allow the UK as a non-EU member but an independent coastal state to surrender its fisheries resources and waters to the EU as part of a transition deal where we must obey the CFP of “equal access to a common resource”.

Many Brexit groups have highlighted because the UK is would not be a member of the EU it cannot be officially recognised by other non-EU nations as being party to deals they have with the EU.

Fishing for Leave cites that this would work in reverse on fisheries As the UK will no longer officially be an EU member the EU cannot officially act or speak on behalf of the UK in international agreements – such as international fisheries agreements

Alan Hastings FFLs spokesman said “Saying the UK and EU will participate at international negotiations is a way to ensure the UK signs off whatever the EU tells us. We then return home and have to surrender our resources to the common EU pot to be divided out under the same grotesquely unfair shares of the CFP to obey the transition arrangements between us and the EU”

“To give some sort of context as a rough legal comparison think of a husband (the EU) and wife (the UK)”.

“Although they are married (i.e. the transition deal) it is a matter of fact the wife (the UK) is a person/country in her/our own right (a coastal state). The husband (the EU) cannot sign for the wife (the UKs) inheritance (fisheries resources agreed international)”.

“However, as they are married (transition deal) once the inheritance (fisheries resources agreed internationally) are concluded the inheritance (our fish) belongs and is divided between their common household where the EU under the terms of the CFP only gives us half of what should otherwise be solely ours”.

FFL say this is why the government has made this provision and shrouded it in opaque wording.

NOTE
This is why DEFRAs official statement to the press when questioned below goes all fuzzy at the end.

Our proposal makes clear that when the UK leaves the EU on 29 March 2019, we will become an independent coastal state. The Treaties will no longer apply, we will no longer be a Member State, and we will leave the Common Fisheries Policy. 

“Our proposal means that during the implementation period we will sit alongside other Coastal States as equal partners in international annual quota negotiations. 

“We are expecting more detailed discussions on the text with the EU. The details of how this apply will be discussed there.”

Alan Hastings said on DEFRAs statement; “Yes, unequivocally, as a legal matter of fact, when we are an independent coastal state this confers the right to sit at the table and exercise sovereignty over our resources as the statement admits”.

“What the statement then fails to highlight is the government has built a mechanism to facilitate selling us out where we can surrender our waters and resources to the EU as part of the terms of the transition deal where we must obey the CFP thereafter – that is what is key”.

“The disgracefulness of this is amplified because they know and recognise that we will be an independent country but have deliberately contrived and decided to throw all that away to be trapped in the CFP. To sell our resources and fishermen out to the EU again but with just a different legal underpinning”.

“It is nothing short of evil, calculated maliciousness hid behind deliberately opaque wording and a PR exercise – those within the establishment who ore engineering something so heinous need to be called out”.

All fishermen’s representative bodies are aghast at the transition saying it could be used to finish of the UK fleet.  They question why fishing needs to be in a transition at all when the government recognises that we can walk away and be an independent coastal state with full control over all our waters and resources.

They are angry that the government failed to back Michael Gove’s and George Eustice’s calls to not include fishing in a transition and to leave the disastrous CFP entirely on 29th March 2019.

Alan Hastings concluded “We fear that the powers that be have laid the ground work to sacrifice Britain’s fishermen and coastal communities to continued demise trapped in the CFP where we will be another British industry consigned to museum and memory”.

Mrs May – trying to face both ways

Like the Roman god Janus, Our Prime Minister, it seems, is trying to face both ways at once. On the one hand, she has been kicking out against the unacceptable terms which the EU  has set for any transitional agreement while on the other, she seems keen to capitulate on important areas such as criminal justice.

Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief negotiator recently stated that agreement on a Brexit transition was “not a given” and with good reason. Theresa May, having read the EU’s terms has fought back, insisting that we must have greater freedom than the EU wants to allow us after Brexit.  She apparently intends to oppose the EU’s terms for citizen’s rights and any thought of us being a passive recipient of EU law but with no say in its formulation. The terms are so harsh, as we have stated, that it would have been unacceptable for Mrs May to have rolled over. Already there is much backbench disquiet over the EU’s proposals. Hopefully all MPs will have read the document produced by the European Commission dated 7th February and in particular, the chilling words in the first paragraph of Page 5:- “For the purposes of the Treaties, during the transition period, the parliament of the United Kingdom shall not be considered to be a national parliament.

Of course, Mrs May presides over a split cabinet. Our friends in Fishing for Leave recently commented on the struggles which Michael Gove has faced merely for wanting the UK to take control of its fishing policy after Brexit. That such a battle even needed to be fought is a cause for concern.

Recalcitrant cabinet members cannot, however, take the blame for Mrs May’s proposed speech in Munich next Saturday where she will give a speech including a  declaration that the UK will continue to participate in the European Arrest Warrant as well as retaining its Europol membership.  Mind you, like much of Mrs May’s Brexit strategy, this may well amount to wishful thinking as it’s not up to us whether we remain participants in these two schemes. Last November, Michel Barnier said that we would be ejected from Europol as it was only open to EU member states. Our ejection was the “logical consequence of the sovereign choice made by the British.” Unlike our team. M. Barnier is not known for changing his stance on key issues, so Mrs May’s speech next Saturday may turn out to be  empty rhetoric.

Indeed, we hope it is so for otherwise, she will face yet more fully-deserved criticism from her MPs. Jacob Rees-Mogg, first off the mark as usual, has reiterated his long-standing opposition to any further UK involvement with this flawed scheme. Regular visitors to this website will be in no doubt about the Campaign for an Indepndent Britain’s opposition to any ongoing participation in the EAW, Europol or the EU Gendarmerie – and we will continue to campaign on this issue if we are not pre-empted by M. Barnier rendering our efforts unnecessary. We fail to understand why Mrs May, Amber Rudd or anyone else wants to keep us locked into our current unsatisfactory relationship with the deeply flawed inquisitorial criminal justice systems of most EU member states.

On a different note, readers will be familiar with our reporting of the pathetic behaviour of the remoaners. It  seems that a small minority of them have touched a new low. At least six major backers of the Leave campaign have received identical death threats. The wording is quite chilling:- “You have stoked the fires of Brexit and led us to this moment. You can no longer be tolerated. We are coming for you. We are going to kill you.” The group sending these letters calls itself “the Real 48 per cent” and has also targeted Cabinet minister Andrea Leadsom.

We would be the first to point out that the vast majority of remain voters, including most of those who sincerely believe that we should remain in the EU, would not remotely condone this sort of intimidation. Indeed, this shadowy group’s title is misleading in the extreme. They only speak for a minute fraction of the 48% of voters who supported remain.  The reality is that most voters on both sides of the debate actually care very little about Brexit any more.  As one writer put it, most people just wish that, as an issue, it would just go away.

So indeed would we, but not until we have achieved full independence – and this includes freedom from the EAW and Europol, full control over who fishes in our Exclusive Economic Zone and a relationship with the EU which is far looser and completely free of the subservience of the proposed transitional agreement.

The good boys (and girls) of Brexit – you and me!

As Leo McKinstry pointed out, Remoaners are “the sorest losers in modern British history.” These arrogant individuals just cannot accept that more than half of those who voted in the June 2016 referendum decided  that we were better off returning to normality – in other words, re-joining the rest of the world as a self-governing nation. They ignore that fact that this incredible result was achieved in spite of the Leave side being very much the underdogs. Cameron chose to fight on as favourable ground for Remain as possible – a short campaign where the full government machinery was used to encourage us to stay in and giving us precious little time to put our point of view across. What is more, he recognised that there were bitter divisions within the Leave camp and no agreed exit plan, which worked to his advantage.

In spite of all these handicaps, we won – admittedly by a small margin. Had the referendum been held in the second half of 2017, as was widely anticipated in the months either side of the 2015 General Election, thus giving us longer to explain the true nature of the European Union, I have no doubt that Leave would have won by a far greater margin.

Even so, I doubt if the remoaners would have behaved any differently. The whingeing, the claims that geriatrics and the great unwashed swung if for Leave and the muck-raking around leading Leave campaigners would have been just the same if it had been a 60-40 majority.

The latest remoaner whinger to be brought to our attention is Molly Scott-Cato, the Green MEP for the South West.  She has launched a website which has borrowed its title from Arron Banks’ book describing the “Tales of Mischief, Mayhem & Guerrilla Warfare in the EU Referendum Campaign”,  The Bad Boys of Brexit. Unlike Mr Banks’ however, book, it isn’t a fun read, but then, humour has always been a conspicuously lacking feature of the eternally self-righteous Green Party.

The website features short biographies of 21 leading figures in the Leave campaign, prefaced by the chilling warning that “I think you will find what you read here frightening” as the website claims to “unpick, using widely available and credible sources, the stories of the people who funded and ran the dishonest and opaque campaigns that persuaded a majority of UK citizens to make a decision damaging to their future. Much of what happened remains shrouded in secrecy and considerable efforts have been made to hide the ugly truth.”

In all honesty. no one would admit that the referendum was won by a group of angels. Politicians and businessmen have their faults and some of the leading figures who supported leave have made some serious mistakes. We are reminded about Dr Liam Fox, for instance, who  “featured prominently in the Westminster expenses scandal of 2010, when it emerged that he had claimed more from the public purse than any other shadow minister.” Fair enough, but what about that arch-remainer Peter Mandelson? He has been at the centre of a scandal or two during his political career.  The implication that the remainers can somehow claim the moral high ground does not stack up.

Some of these “bad boys'” main crime seems to be nothing more than not supporting the ideology of the Green Party. Matt Ridley is a climate change sceptic and a supporter of fracking. For your average Green, holding such views puts you a par with neo-Nazis, and mass murderers (except. of course, if the latter happen to be Islamists).

Jacob Rees-Mogg‘s biggest crime merely seems to be that he is very rich  and that he sensibly has decided that he is better equipped to decide how to spend his own money that the State. What is wrong with that? Everything, it seems, if you are a Green.

I had never previously heard of Alexander Nix, whose main contribution to the leave campaign was via his company Cambridge Analytica, which skillfully targeted voters with an appropriate message on social media. So it’s fine for the government to use taxpayers’ money to produce a booklet telling us to stay in but somehow it’s wrong for the Leave side to hire a private firm to persuade us to leave?

Making contact with anyone connected with the Russian government is another heinous crime in Molly Scott-Cato’s eyes. For some reason,  even though Peter Hitchens correctly pointed out that Russia is as much a threat to the UK as the Klingons, it doesn’t seem to have dawned on some people that Putin’s Russia isn’t the same as the Soviet Union and doesn’t want either to invade us or to turn us into a Marxist-Leninist dictatorship (Perhaps she would be better advised to direct her self-righteous anger against John McDonnell instead, as he seems rather keener on this idea than Mr Putin). Scott-Cato’s  website suggests that she is happy to believe any “fake news” suggesting that Russia interfered with Brexit, with the US Presidential election and so on, while at the same presenting a very one-sided  view of the  Russia/Ukraine conflict with no mention of the covert EU support for the overthrow of the democratically elected but pro-Russian government of Viktor Yanukovich  in 2014,

The biggest criticism of this website, however, does not relate to the selective biographies of any one individual but rather to the implicit claim that somehow, these individuals bear the sole responsibility for the Brexit vote. In actual fact, as we pointed out on that memorable day when the result was announced. you did it – “the thousands of ordinary people who gave of their time and money so readily to distribute hundreds and thousands of leaflets and to canvass and campaign on the streets of our towns, cities and villages.”  It was truly a victory for grassroots campaigners who rolled up their sleeves and gave their all; unknown individuals with no skeletons in their cupboard to qualify them for inclusion on this insidious “bad boys” website. The likes of Molly Scott-Cato have had to lash out at the high-profile names because they cannot bring themselves to admit the truth of this.

I recall one such individual. I was having breakfast at a B&B in Hampshire after taking part in a debate in a neighbouring village the previous evening. A fellow guest joined me and we started chatting (unsurprisingly) about the referendum which, at the time, was less than two weeks away. I found out that he was going to vote leave and when I told him I had a few spare copies of our leaflets in my car, he asked if he could take them to distribute round the village in Somerset where he lived. To my knowledge, this gentleman had never done any political campaigning in his life before  – and probably hasn’t since.

Then there was that unforgettable “Battle of the Thames” six days before the actual vote when Fishing For Leave organised a flotilla of fishing boats which sailed under Tower Bridge and up to the Houses of Parliament, making a complete fool of Bob Geldof in the process. Our fishermen are not billionaires or sleazy politicians but widely-respected hard-working men who earn their living in challenging conditions, made much harder by the EU’s appalling mismanagement of fishing in our waters. Sympathy for their plight unquestionably boosted the Leave vote. I recall at least one hitherto undecided voter for whom fisheries was the issue which finally tipped him into supporting leave. He was not the only one, I am sure.

One hesitates to give an individual like Molly Scott-Cato the oxygen of publicity, but the sheer amount of claptrap on her website does merit a refutation. No one would deny that the leave-supporting media and some prominent individuals did play a part in securing the historic leave vote, but it is an insult to the many ordinary activists and the huge sacrifices they made to suggest that the result was entirely due to the big names. Yes, I do find the website frightening but not for the reason which the author suggests. Rather it is because it reveals the disdain for ordinary people, the arrogant bigotry and the insane jealousy which characterises the Greens. In the past, they  managed to hide these traits under the cloak of caring for the environment but websites like this show them in their true colours and it is not pleasant.

Still eating his words in 14 months’ time? Let’s hope so

The consequence of the Brexit vote  “wasn’t as bad as we thought.” David Cameron’s off-the-cuff comment to steel tycoon Lakshmi Mittal was caught on video, as you can see here. However, he did actually say, “it’s a mistake not a disaster. It’s turned out less badly than we had thought but it’s still going to be difficult”.

Over 18 months since the Referendum the UK economy has performed well. The  official guidance to voters, in a letter sent by HM Treasury to each and every household, said that on a Leave vote, “Britain’s economy could be tipped into a year-long recession. Further, at least 500,000 jobs could be lost and GDP could be around 3.6% lower following a vote to leave the EU than it would be if we remained in the EU.”

The reality is that unemployment has fallen to a 43-year low of 4.3%, GDP has continued to grow and exporters are doing well, with September 2017 being the best month ever  Project Fear has looked very discredited and even one of the two men driving it has finally admitted the truth.

The last part of Cameron’s statement is also true as well, unfortunately. The next 14 months are going to be difficult and the difficulties for the government are already mounting as opposition from Tory MPs in particular to the proposed “transitional deal” is beginning to grow.  We have outlined many of its unsatisfactory features on this website and are pleased that our concerns are now being voiced within the corridors of Westminster.  Readers may enjoy this exchange between Jacob Rees-Mogg MP and Brexit secretary David Davis, whose jocular manner cannot disguise the discomfort he clearly felt as Mr Rees-Mogg put him on the spot.

We yet remain hopeful, even if the conflict over this issue is likely in the short-term, that David Cameron will still be eating his words in 14 months’ time.

Macron and Marr muddy the waters as Brexiteers speak out against the ECJ

The headlines in Open Europe’s daily e-mail sounded very promising:-  “UK could have a bespoke arrangement between full single market access and a free trade deal, says Emmanuel Macron.” Isn’t that what everyone has wanted? Could it even be “having cake and eating it”?

Not if one reads the small print. Macron’s comments were made during an interview for the Andrew Marr Show. Nicola Shawson of the Guardian listened to the full interview and pointed out that Macron insisted that there would be no cherry-picking:-

Pressed on whether there would be a bespoke special solution for the UK, Macron said: “Sure, but … this special way should be consistent with the preservation of the single market and our collective interests… and you should understand that you cannot, by definition, have the full access to the single market if you don’t tick the box.”

So nothing new here. We will get a deal giving us some degree of access to the single market, but not full access. It will be worse than the access we enjoy as a full member. Fine. We already knew that.

Another person who listened to Macron’s interview with Andreew Marr was Richard North, who pointed out that Macron contradicted himself:-

By definition, he said, the relationship will be “less deep than today”. The deepest possible relationship is being a member of the European Union. But he then adds: “As you decided to leave you cannot be part of the single market”.

Now this is confusing because he goes on to say that “you can have some deeper relations and some others”. For instance, he says, “we have a deeper relation with Norway than the – the one we have with Canada”. So it depends on the outcome of the Brexit negotiation but, unless you change your mind, you will not be part of the single market because you will not be part of the European Union.

Addressed to someone like Andrew Marr, who already has a slender grasp of the basics – to say nothing of the body politic in general – this sort of confusion, where he elides membership of the EU and the Single Market, can be fatal.

Certainly, the French President seems to contradict what he was saying last week in the aftermath of the Anglo-French summit at Sandhurst.

It’s therefore not only our side which is getting into a muddle over Brexit.

Macron and Marr were discussing a longer-term EU-UK relationship, Turning to the transitional arrangements, it is encouraging to note that opposition is mounting among Conservative MPs to any role for the ECJ and to free movement of people after 29th March 2019 – Brexit day.  Jacob Rees-Mogg didn’t mince his words about free movement nor the cost of the Brexit settlement, while ex-ministers Iain Duncan-Smith, John Redwood, Owen Paterson and Lord Lawson also made clear their opposition to any involvement of the ECJ once we are formally out of the EU.

Of course, it is one thing to point out the bad features of a proposed deal and quite another to come up with a suitable alternative, particularly one which will satisfy the business community, which is desperate for some guidelines in time to plan for life outside the EU. Some compromises will have to be made as it is impossible to find even a short-term deal which will tick everyone’s boxes. A total surrender to the EU, however, turning us into a colony of Brussels for 21 months, is definitely not the answer and it is good that voices in Parliament are beginning to be raised which will hopefully force a re-think – and soon.

 

PS: Since this article was published, a further article which provides an indication of the scale of opposition to free movement of people and any role for the ECJ after Brexit has appeared in the Independent. Mrs May is going ot have a very tough time trying to get an agreement for the transitional deal as it stands, although a leadership challenge, as suggested by the author of the article, does look very unlikely.

Photo by LeWeb14

No deal is looking increasingly likely

There was something of a storm in a teacup in the House of Commons on Monday. The Conservative backbencher Jacob Rees-Mogg asked the Prime Minister for an assurance that the European Court of Justice’s writ will not run in the UK after March 29th 2019. Mrs May didn’t oblige. She replied that “That may mean that we will start off with the ECJ governing the rules that we are part of.” This admission that we will “fall under ECJ rules” was all over the papers, but this media frenzy was based on the assumption that the transition period proposed by Mrs May, among others, is a realistic option. In reality, it isn’t.

What seems to be the core of the transition proposals is that we continue for a couple of years as a shadow member state. Having repatriated the acquis into domestic legislation, we would voluntarily apply the rules of the single market and customs union while in exchange, the EU would treat us like a member state for trade purposes and neither impose any tariffs nor apply the usual rules of inspection for a “third country” at the main ports of entry for UK exports, such as Calais due to our regulatory convergence with the EU.

The flaw in the proposal is that it makes the assumption that the EU will bend its own rules for the sake of an ex-member whose vote to leave dealt it a huge political blow. There is every indication that Mrs May’s transitional plan, which so upset Jacob Rees-Mogg, is a non-starter. EU bigwigs have been very courteous but the message has been quite unequivocal – No way to this transitional arrangement, no matter how many times the Prime Minister calls on the EU to show “leadership” and “flexibility.”

So what are we left with? In her speech yesterday, Mrs May raised the possibility of there not being a deal in place – transitional or otherwise – by March 2019. “While I believe it is profoundly in all our interests for the negotiations to succeed, it is also our responsibility as a Government to prepare for every eventuality, so that is exactly what we are doing. These white papers also support that work, including setting out steps to minimise disruption for businesses and travellers”, she said. (The white papers to which she refers cover trade and customs.)

Naturally, the Prime Minister stated that this was not what she wanted, going on to say “We are negotiating a deal. We will not have negotiated that deal until, I suspect, close to the end of that period that’s been set aside for it.” In other words, we will keep on talking and hope for some sort of deal eventually, even if the talks go to the wire.

This is not helpful for businesses, who will not have any guidelines to help them prepare for Brexit and will not even know whether a deal is going to happen until the last minute.  If they were to take the advice of some commentators, it would be to prepare for no deal being struck. For all Mrs May’s calls for flexibility, that word isn’t to be found in the EU’s vocabulary, as David Davis and his team are beginning to discover. We agreed to the EU’s negotiating timetable – in other words, that an agreement (or at least, reasonable progress towards an agreement) – on  the Irish border question, the divorce bill and the rights of EU citizens resident in the UK must come before any talk about trade. We needn’t have done this, but we have and so who can blame the EU for sticking to its guns when there has been very little progress in these three areas?

The repeated rejection of ongoing membership of the European Economic Area, for instance, by re-joining EFTA, has closed off another option and one which has two advantages over the bespoke transitional arrangement which Mrs May is suggesting. Firstly, it is rooted in reality. We would be signing up to an agreement which the EU has already signed. Secondly, there would be no need to accept the supervision of the ECJ or to be part of the EU’s customs union. We would thus be free to strike our own trade deals.

There is also one other intriguing possibility, first raised by George Yarrow of the Regulatory Policy Institute. In his paper,  Brexit and the Single Market, he claims that on Brexit, the UK would remain a member of the EEA by default  He points out that joining the EU does not automatically mean joining the EEA; a separate accession process is required. Likewise, when Austria, Sweden and Finland left EFTA to join the EU in 1995 (by which time the EEA agreement between the EU and EFTA was in place), they did not have to re-apply to join the EEA. They were already members through having been in EFTA. The default position for the UK on departure, therefore, is that it too would remain an EEA member.

Yarrow’s thesis has attracted little attention from either our negotiators or the EU’s team. It raises a number of questions but it might possibly offer some answers. While the EU has no interest in exploring it, it would make life a lot easier for David Davis. We would not be under the power of the ECJ but of the EFTA court (which is limited to “EEA-relevant” matters) and could follow Liechtenstein and apply the same restriction on free movement of people, using Articles 112 and 113 of the EEA agreement. At a stroke, we would be in a better transitional position than under Mrs May’s proposals – to which the EU is not going to agree anyway.

On the other hand, if Yarrow is wrong and leaving the EU means leaving the EEA, it does mean that time is very short – probably already too short – for any satisfactory arrangement  to be in place by March 2019. German manufacturers are being told to prepare for a “very hard Brexit” while the Irish equivalent of HMRC has already reached the conclusion that customs posts will need to be erected between the Republic and Northern Ireland, even though no one on either side wants to see the return of any sort of visible border.

Yarrow’s thesis or an immediate application to re-join EFTA  are thus the only two escape routes from the looming cliff edge which no one wants either. The first option is untried and may not stand up legally while the second has been repeatedly rejected in favour of a chimera – namely Mrs May’s illusory “transitional arrangement”. We are not yet in Private Fraser territory where “we’re all doomed”, but Mrs May and her party could well be unless they engage in some lateral thinking – and quickly.