Support Fishing for Leave’s protests – details, dates and venues (will be updated regularly)

Fishing for Leave is staging mass protests with fishermen in ports nationwide against the Transition deal that will see the UK obeying all EU law including the hated Common Fisheries Policy (CFP). The demonstrations will be joined by top Tory MPs and Brexiteers.

** FOLLOWING APRIL 8th’s PROTESTS, FURTHER SUCH EVENTS ARE PLANNED AND WE WILL PROVIDE YOU WITH DETAILS AS THEY ARE SENT TO US BY FISHING FOR LEAVE **

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.

 

Transition will eradicate British fishing Industry

Press release from Fishing for Leave
  • Fishermen’s Organistation Fishing for Leave say it is now unequivocal fact that the “Transition” means we will be trapped obeying all EU law including the disastrous Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) as some sort of vassal state
  • FFL cite EU could trap UK in protracted legal claims for ‘continuity of rights’. Continued CFP is existential threat to what is left of the British fishing industry and coastal communities.
  • Group claims EU will have little charity as the UK will be locked into “legal purgatory” in the CFP where EU could cull UK fleet and claim ‘surplus’ UK hasn’t capacity to catch.
  • FFL implore government and MP’s to refuse the “transition” terms and to exempt fisheries from them

Fishermen’s organization Fishing for Leave say the proposed “transition” is a grave constitutional danger and an “existential threat” to the survival of Britain’s fishing industry and coastal communities.

The group say it is now clear that the “transition”, which they have been warning for months, would give the UK a Brexit in name only. In a position of neither remaining as a member, as Article 50 terminates the UKs current membership on the 29th of March 2019, nor leaving as the terms of the transition say the UK must obey the entire Acquis (all EU law -old and new) including the disastrous Common Fisheries Policy (CFP).

**NOTES
The EU clearly stated their terms as announced on 29th of January;

12. any transitional arrangements…. should cover the whole of the Union Acquis…Any changes to the Acquis should automatically apply to and in the United Kingdom during the transition period.

17. The UK will no longer participate in or nominate or elect members of the Union institutions, nor participate in the decision-making or the governance of the Union bodies, offices and agencies.

20. Specific consultations should also be foreseen with regard to for the fixing of fishing opportunities during the transition period, in full respect of the Union acquis.

CLAUSE 12 & 20 CLEARLY SAYS WE WILL STILL HAVE TO RESPECT THE ACQUIS (i.e. THE CFP). CLAUSE 17 SAYS WE’LL HAVE NO SAY OR RECOURSE

Veteran Campaigner John Ashworth said
“Our primary concerns  is ‘Continuity of Rights’ under treaty law. We have always been concerned that adoption of all EU law onto the UK statute book could allow the EU to cite that rights acquired under the Acquis should continue to apply – the EU has stated this since its parliamentary briefing notes on Brexit in February 2016”.

“A “transition” period compounds this danger. As it is part of the deal after we leave the EU under Article 50 and it will have to be underwritten by a new ‘transition’ treaty between the two parties. Under the terms of the treaty the UK will have agreed to re-obey the entire Acquis after we terminate our current membership”

“As we will either not terminate the new ‘transition’ treaty nor have a clearly defined Article 50 get out  clause where “the treaties cease to apply”, then Article 70 of the Vienna Convention says “unless the treaty otherwise provides…..the termination of a treaty does not affect any rights, obligations or legal situations created through the treaty”..

“In addition to this Article 30 of the Vienna Convention provides that if a previous and latter treaty are not incompatible, and that the old treaty is not terminated then the rights of that treaty will still apply.”

“We will have created a continuity of rights by adopting all EU law and then agreeing to obey it as per the terms of a transition treaty. The EU could then argue for this in protracted litigation that would bind us into the CFP and hamstring the UK for years to come”.   

                                                                                                                                                                                     
Existential Threat to the Fishing Industry
Alan Hastings of FFL continued;
“If we fail to break free from the CFP the EU will be free to implement policy changes to our detriment. We doubt the EU27 would feel charitable to their political prisoner who has no representation but abundant fishing waters”.

The group say that the ill-conceived EU quota system and discard ban is the existential threat that could be used to finish what’s left of our Britain’s fishing fleet allowing the EU to claim the ‘surplus’ that Britain would no longer have the capacity to catch.

Alan highlighted;
“Rather than address the cause of discards – quotas, the EU has banned the symptoms – discards.

Now when a vessel exhausts its lowest quota it must cease fishing. ‘Choke species’ will see vessels tied up early and, according to official government Seafish statistics, 60% of the fleet will go bankrupt”.

If a sizeable portion of the UK fleet is lost international law under UNCLOS Article 62.2 which says;  ‘Where a coastal State does not have the capacity to harvest the entire allowable catch, it shall… give other States access to the ‘surplus’.”

Fishing for Leave warns that between the EU having the opportunity to claim “continuity of rights” even if proved wrong they could drag out Britain being trapped in the CFP and its quota system and discard ban for enough time to fishing our fleet off.

Alan concluded;
Once we have lost our industry there is no way back from this Catch 22– if we do not have the fleet we cannot catch the “surplus” and if we do not have the “surplus” we cannot maintain a fleet. With this we will also lose a generation and their skills which are irretrievable.

The UK political establishment of all hues would not be forgiven for betraying coastal communities a second time.

“A transition destroys the opportunity of repatriating all Britain’s waters and resources worth between £6-8bn annually to national control. This would allow bespoke, environmentally fit-for-purpose UK policy that would benefit all fishermen to help rejuvenate our coastal communities”.

“As Minister, Eustice promised we could rebalance the shares of resources where we, have the EU fleet catching 60% of the fish in our waters but receive only 25% of the Total Allowable Catches even though we have 50% of the waters”

“This transition is the reverse of this and something exceptional that is within touching distance and what the public in constituencies across our land expect to see on this totemic and evocative issue”.

“The government and MPs must refuse the “transition” terms and exempt fisheries from them or we will consign another British industry to museum and memory.

“That Theresa May has known this all along means she, and her remain minded officials, are fully complicit in the embryonic stages of a second betrayal and sell out of Britain’s fishing industry”.

NOTE ON PM’s comments

For too long people have bought the government rhetoric. The PM and Ministers have repeated; “We will be leaving the Common Fisheries Policy on March 29, 2019”.

This spin has never been a commitment nor indication of a clean Brexit for fisheries. Those who kept citing these words have been either mendacious or naive to the reality of a Transition.

The government has known all along what the transition meant. The PM always continues, that;
“Leaving the CFP and leaving the CAP” wouldn’t give the opportunity until post that implementation (transition) period – to actually introduce arrangements that work for the United Kingdom. The arrangement that pertains to fisheries during that implementation period will, of course, be part of the negotiations for that implementation period”.

We may officially “leave” the CFP on 29th March 2019 but we’ll re-obey entire EU Acquis as part of the “transition” period after Article 50 officially terminates the UKs membership – we will have left in name only.

Awaiting the storm (or explosion!)

It cannot be much longer before the penny finally drops regarding the terms being proposed by the EU for the UK’s 21-month “transitional arrangement.”

Businessmen like John Mills and John Longworth, both of whom met Michel Barnier in Brussels last week, are distinctly unimpressed with what we are likely to be offered, but it is surprising that there haven’t already been even louder cries of outrage from the Conservative back benches. Last November, at a meeting organised by Conservative MEP David Campbell Bannerman, Rt Hon David Jones MP was quite unequivocal that any further involvement of the European Court of Justice (ECJ) in the legal affairs of the UK after Brexit would be an “absolute red line” for himself and a number of his colleagues, who would rather leave with no deal.

As more details emerge, it is becoming clear that it’s not just a role for the ECJ in our affairs which the EU wishes to incorporate into the transitional deal. According to an article in The Times, the EU will insist on the free movement of people throughout the period and the inclusion of people moving to the UK before 31st December 2020 in any post-Brexit agreement on citizens’ rights.. This again is a slap in the face for leave voters. It’s not just that many of us voted leave because we want to see a drastic cut in immigration; more to the point, we voted leave because we wanted our institutions to be sovereign – and this means that the EU must have no say in determining who can or cannot come into the UK or how long they can stay.

This tougher stance is contained in a new document dated 15th January. It is not the final word on the EU’s position, which will not be published until the end of the month, but it certainly gives us an idea of the general direction of travel. The guidelines produced last year by the European Parliament, although essentially a consultative document, were bad enough. We would be, in effect, a colony of the EU, unable to sign any trade agreements with other countries and still subject to the Common Fisheries and Common Agricultural policies. This document was bad enough, but according to Bloomberg, the latest document also states that we would need to seek the EU’s permission even to start negotiations on trade deals with third parties. We would be unable to strike out on our own path. The net “divorce bill” may also be increased.

Perhaps ironically, the Council President Donald Tusk told the European Parliament that “our hearts are still open “that the UK might “have a change of heart” and stay within the EU. This suggests a warmth towards us which just is not reflected in the negotiating guidelines which seem designed to squeeze and humiliate us as much as possible. Chancellor Philip Hammond claimed recently that the EU is “paranoid” that other countries will follow us out of the door. It has also been claimed that the EU is pressurising Switzerland not to make a bilateral deal with the UK The EU’s tough stance may well all be technically justifiable from the treaties, but it clearly wishes to interpret them in the toughest way possible as far as Brexit is concerned. No one with any sense of self-respect should give in to this bullying.

The transitional deal must therefore be kicked into the long grass as soon as possible, especially as there is no guarantee that a new trade deal will be ready to replace it after 21 months. The EU’s ambassadors have signalled a willingness for the transitional period to be extended, but this would only prolong an unsatisfactory situation which is not Brexit in any real sense of the term.

A further complication is looming on the horizon. The Norwegians have indicated that they would seek to renegotiate their trading arrangements with the EU if we were given favourable access to the EU’s single market  while not being a member of it.  This, of course, refers to any long-term deal and therefore is not an issue for Mrs May at the moment as the EU has insisted that negotiations on a long-term trading arrangement cannot start yet.  Let’s face it, she has enough on her plate as her team prepares to negotiate the transitional arrangements. We must hope that there is already a storm brewing up on the Conservative back benches which will rapidly knock these unacceptable proposals on the head and force the government to take a different approach.

If not, the storm is likely to strike with far greater ferocity  in four years’ time. A botched Brexit where we leave in name only is not what we voted for and not what Mrs May promised us when she became leader.   Brexit must mean Brexit or our Prime Minister will not only find herself consigned to a “rogues gallery”, excoriated by posterity alongside the likes of Lord North, Neville Chamberlain, Heath, Blair and Brown, but she may well take her party down with her.

Taking Stock

Where are we with the Brexit negotiations and where would we like them to be going?

It’s hard to find any sort of consensus about the former, let alone the latter. Are we being led deliberately towards a Brexit in name only or are we about to see our side walk away from the negotiations and rely on so-called “WTO rules” to govern all our future international trade? Was Article 50 always a trap which was going to end up locking us into the EU?

Given the multiplicity of deeply-held views, this piece could end up being just one other person’s opinion. I hope not.  In summing up where we are now, I have read a fair number of different commentators and weighed their opinions before writing this summary.

Firstly, I think it is beyond dispute that the talks have not gone brilliantly from the UK’s point of view, but at least we can be thankful they did not grind to a halt last December as some had predicted.

David Davis and his team got off to a bad start by agreeing to the EU’s sequencing – in other words, “sufficient progress” had to be made on the Irish border issue, the rights of EU citizens resident in the UK and the “divorce settlement” before we could proceed to other issues. Under Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, there was no requirement for him to agree to this.

Next comes the transitional arrangement. This was our side’s idea and does not reflect well on our politicians and civil servants.  Not that long ago, we were hearing from some quarters that a trade deal between the EU and the UK would be “the easiest in human history” because of our regulatory conformity. It has since dawned on at least some politicians (although possibly not even all of them, even now)  that this isn’t the case.

The mistake is a very fundamental one because it reveals a profound ignorance of the purpose of the whole European project. We have always viewed the EU as a trading bloc – after all, that was what Edward Heath sought to emphasise in the early 1970s. He did occasionally talk about the sharing of sovereignty, but he didn’t exactly bend over backwards to  explain even to Parliament what we were joining. Of course, Heath knew the truth and now our team is having to learn the hard way. The EU is primarily a political project and trade issues are only a means to an end.

It is also a very rules-bound organisation. Belatedly, our team is discovering that “flexibility” is not a popular word in Brussels. Treaties with precise wording govern every aspect of the EU project. The EU’s chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, knows its workings inside out and unfortunately, comes across as far more on the ball than David Davis.

Is Barnier an ogre? Does he want to punish the UK? Is he merely a puppet whose strings are being pulled by Berlin? A delegation of pro-Brexit businessmen met him in Brussels recently. One of them, CIB Committee member John Mills, described him as “tough and charming“. Essentially, he wants these negotiations to succeed but not at the expense of the integrity of the EU’s single market.  The European project unquestionably took a knock when we voted to leave and he as much as any senior figure in the EU is committed to damage limitation and keeping the show on the road.  The EU has other crises on its hands and Brexit is an unwelcome distraction. After all, it was our decision to leave.  Given these factors, Barnier is merely sticking to the EU rulebook which he knows so well. There is no evidence of any personal animosity towards us our our politicians.  His biggest gripe is that we don’t seem to know what we want from Brexit.

This is essentially where our request for a transitional arrangement comes in. There have been pro-withdrawal groups, including the Campaign for an Independent Britain, even before we joined the European project in 1973. We have been good at arguing the case for independence and ultimately persuaded over 17 million voters of our point of view. We have been less good at explaining how we can leave seamlessly and this has been the root of the Government’s problems.

The Transitional deal, at least if it is negotiated according to the rules laid down by the European Parliament, will be very bad news for us.  It seems to be being pursued purely because the Government knows that a full trade deal will not be ready by March 2019; in other words, it buys us more time.  Theoretically, there is a “sunset clause” – it will only last 21 months, but what if the trade deal isn’t signed by the end of this period?

The significant and surprising support for this transitional deal seems to be based entirely on the assumption that this won’t be a worry. If there’s something good to look forward to, these 21 months of being essentially controlled by Brussels is a price worth paying. This is a fallacy, however, as this piece helpfully explains.

The dilemma we face is that while there is widespread agreement about where we actually want to be after Brexit, there is no agreement on how to get there.

Apart from diehard remoaners, most people would probably agree on all or most of the following:-

i) The ECJ must have no power whatsoever to interfere in the government or legal process in the UK – including those EU citizens currently resident here. We must remove ourselves from Europol and the European Arrest Warrant – in other words, we are back to being a normal sovereign independent country as far as criminal justice is concerned.

ii) Fisheries and agriculture must be 100% under domestic control (and fishing should not be managed on a quota system)

iii) We must be separate from the EU’s military machine, including in the areas of procurement.

iv) We should not make any contribution to the EU’s funds apart from covering our costs where we wish to participate in a specific scheme such as the Erasmus student exchange.

v) we must have complete control of our borders

vi) we must have complete freedom to set our own levels of taxation, benefits and tariffs.

Agreeing our long-term goal is the easy bit. The problem is that we may never get there unless the Government can define in terms which the EU can understand what we want in the immediate post-Brexit period. The transitional arrangements might at least keep industry happy inasmuch as no new guidelines need be given for life could continue for a further 21 months more or less as it does now, but this is only kicking the can down the road. If we find ourselves bogged down in a transition arrangement along the lines already discussed and this period is then extended to (and beyond) the next General Election, we may find ourselves stuck in a sort of limbo which would please no one and would leave many voters vulnerable to the remoaners’ propaganda and thus eventually crawling back into the EU. Alternatively, if we walk away from the negotiations altogether, the net result could be a sudden and severe recession. In this instance,  once again we could be faced with a clamour to re-join.

This would be a tragedy. The key to preventing this happening is to focus on the unacceptability of the current transitional proposals. While many leave voters are strongly opposed to any further membership of the European Economic Area, as a stopgap, it is much less awful, as Nigel Moore argues here. What is more, according to Profesor George Yarrow, unless we give notice that we are quitting the EEA before 29th March of this year, we will still be in it on Brexit day by default, as leaving he EEA is totally separate from leaving the EU.

Yarrow’s thesis has not been put to the test, but then, Brexit as a whole is breaking completely new ground. It is hardly surprising that the path has not been a smooth one. All the same, progress has not been satisfactory thus far and although on balance, I think that the Government’s poor performance has been borne out of an inability to master the issues as quickly as anticipated rather than out of a devious plan to stifle Brexit, Mr Davis and his team desperately need to up their game if we are to achieve a successful Brexit in just over a year’s time.

NO! NO! NO!

Listen to the clip attached to this article. Pinch yourself. Is it real? Here we have Nigel Farage, the man who friend and foe alike acknowledge played a significant role in securing the historic vote to leave the EU over eighteen months ago, calling for a second referendum.

Yes, I could hardly believe it. The author of the article suspects an ulterior motive – in other words, that Nigel is happier when he has something to snipe about from the sidelines. Nigel himself offers a much more straightforward reason for his “conversion” – winning a second referendum would finally shut up the likes of Blair and Clegg for good. Perhaps – but this argument is flawed for several reasons.

Firstly and most importantly, there is the practical issue of the ongoing Brexit talks. Our team needs the distraction of a second referendum like it needs a hole in the head.  We are less than 15 months away from Brexit day and there is a huge amount which has to be sorted out before then. As for groups like CIB, rather than gearing up for a second referendum, our energies should be devoted instead to campaigning for a change of course from the current plan for a transitional deal which, as we have pointed out, is most unsatisfactory as it stands.

Secondly, a second referendum would undermine the legitimacy of the first one. The question was simple – Should the UK remain a member of the EU or leave the EU? 51.9% of those who voted, in other words, 17,410,742 voters, voted to leave. The vast majority of them knew what they were doing and while a few have changed their minds, most people have accepted the result.  The Government triggered Article 50 and is pushing through the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill on the strength of the result. It was the biggest democratic exercise in our nation’s political history. More people voted to leave the EU than have ever voted for anything else. The result must stand.

Thirdly, who wants to go through that gruelling campaign again?  When I look back to 2016, I will never forget the euphoria of that momentous day when the result was declared, but neither will I forget the preceding months, including taking part in six debates in seven days. Those late nights, the travelling, the thousands of e-mails, the phone calls. It was absolutely incessant. From the day when Cameron announced the date of the referendum until the result was announced, it completely took over my life and the life of thousands of many activists up and down the country. I doubt if there are many people on either side of the  Brexit debate who are keen on a repeat performance.

Fourthly, it would reopen a lot of old wounds. Nigel’s opinions, sadly, come across as the view of someone enclosed in the Westminster bubble. The average man or woman in the street was never that interested in the European Union and I suspect that there are many people who now switch off whenever Brexit is mentioned in the news, especially as it is all getting very technical. Let’s face is – some of us who were active in the campaign are fed up with it all and can’t wait for Brexit to be done and dusted. To repeat a point which was made above, most people, whichever way they voted, have accepted the result and even some remain voters, rather than moping,  are considering the opportunities Brexit will bring. Apart from some of our universities and parts of London and Scotland,  animosity over Brexit has been pretty short-lived. We have moved on.  Who cares about Nick Clegg, let alone Tony Blair?  The reason their bleating is getting more desperate in tone is that every day which passes is a day closer  to the day when we finally leave the EU and everything for which they have stood politically will come crashing to the ground.

One reason why we can be confident that Nigel’s call for a second referendum will fall flat is that the Conservative Party, like the country as a whole, has no desire to reopen old wounds. Last June’s election result was a shock to the system and it has concentrated minds powerfully. Apart from the real headbangers like Ken Clarke and Anna Soubry, most Tory MPs know that their survival depends on standing together and delivering a successful Brexit. A second referendum will do nothing for their party’s cause. Furthermore, considering the bad blood between Leave.eu, in which  Nigel was prominent, on the one hand and Vote.leave, which was the preferred leave campaign of most leave-supporting Conservative MPs, on the other, there will be little enthusiasm among any Tories for Nigel to be calling the shots on Brexit.

So while many of us share his desire to see Clegg, Blair & Co silenced once and for all, a second referendum is not the answer. Thank you for all you did, Nigel, but as Mrs Thatcher would have said, NO, NO, NO!

  Photo by Michael Vadon