Theresa May’s Brexit headache has got another notch worse with the arrival of a letter from all thirteen Scottish Tory MPs, including Scottish Secretary David Mundell, explicitly reaffirming their red lines on UK fishing rights post Brexit. It includes a stark warning against “becoming an independent coastal state in name only“, and makes clear that Scottish Tory MPs “could not support an agreement with the EU that would prevent the UK from independently negotiating access and quota shares.” Not a good sign for Downing Street that Mundell, a Cabinet minister who has had access to the actual text, has signed it…
Read the full text below:
We are writing to reiterate our joint position on fishing before the details of the Withdrawal Agreement and the Future Economic Partnership are published.
You have made welcome statements throughout the Brexit negotiations that leaving the EU will mean leaving the Common Fisheries Policy and negotiating as an independent coastal state from December 2020. You said in your conference speech that anything less would be a ‘betrayal of Scotland’ and we completely agree. This has raised expectations in the fishing industry that Brexit will lead to complete control and full sovereignty over domestic waters that we must deliver on.
In order to deliver on these expectations, we could not support an agreement with the EU that would prevent the UK from independently negotiating access and quota shares. That would mean that we would not be leaving the CFP in practice and would be becoming an independent coastal state in name only. At the end of the Implementation Period, we must be able to negotiate access and quota shares with the EU and other third countries independently on an annual basis, without any pre-existing arrangement being in force. This means that access and quota shares cannot be included in the Future Economic Partnership, allowing the UK to become an independent coastal state both in principal and in practice.
We also cannot remain in the CFP after December 2020. As fishing quotas are decided on an annual basis, remaining in the CFP for even a few months into the new year would result in quotas being assigned for the entire year based on existing arrangements. Our coastal communities have already made the difficult compromise of accepting extending CFP membership throughout the Implementation Period and they have made it clear to us that they will not accept any further extension.
We are copying this letter to the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.