They’ve had time to mullet over and the verdict from Tory MPs on the fishing section of the transition deal is in: cod do better. The rebellion is already on a significant scale – Number 10 will be reeling from these quotes (via David Scullion):
Douglas Ross MP: “The UK Government has delivered far less than I hoped and expected… it would be easier to get someone to drink a pint of cold sick than to try to sell this as a success.”
Ross Thomson MP: “Be clear that UK national ﬁsheries resources are not negotiable and that we will therefore be setting our own ﬁsheries policy from 29 March 2019. We cannot remain party to the OFF during the proposed implementation period.”
Ruth Davidson: “Having spoken to fishing leaders today, I know they’re deeply frustrated with this outcome. There is no ignoring the fact that this falls short of what they had hoped for in the short-term.”
Iain Duncan Smith: “There does seem to be a real concern… it appears that at least through the implementation period nothing will change, and I think that will be a concern and the government clearly has to deal with that because a lot of MPs are very uneasy about that right now.”
Richard Tice, Leave Means Leave: “Under the current plans, we will not be taking back control of our fisheries when we leave the EU – something which the Government had previously promised. Ruth Davidson is absolutely right on this – our fishermen must have absolute control of our waters and fish from the end of March 2019 and anything less is totally unacceptable.”
Fishing for Leave: “[David Davis] should stay in Brussels as his allegiance is obviously to the EU ring of stars not Her Majesty the Queen or the British people.”
Scottish Fishermen’s Federation: “It’s far short of an acceptable deal – we leave the OFF and hand back sovereignty over our seas a few seconds later.”
Meanwhile Open Europe’s Henry Newman is reporting that Whitehall officials are advocating that the UK should give up fishing rights and that Hammond is not interested in defending the fishing industry. Hyped up rows over the transition have traditionally been a bit of a red herring. But this is not going swimmingly.
UPDATE: Scottish Tory MPs have been called in to see chief whip Julian Smith over the rebellion.
UPDATE II: Worth remembering that this row is largely over what will happen during one year of the transition. The annual catch is decided in December of each year, so in December 2018 the UK will be involved as we are now in determining catch and distribution for 2019 – year one of the transition. It’s year two of the transition, 2020, that is causing concern. The upside is that, even though the UK will only be “consulted“, Brussels has agreed the catch size will be exactly the same so at least we do not lose out, even if we are not taking back control that year. By 2021 the UK will be negotiating fishing rights as an independent coastal state and fully taking back control of our waters. The end state sounds acceptable, Number 10 will be hoping MPs can live with that one year of compromise in the meantime…