Theresa May put on notice over Brexit fishing deal

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Theresa May has given assurances to Scottish Conservative MPs over the future of fishing after Brexit following widespread anger at the terms of a transition deal struck with Brussels.

Scottish Conservative MPs have put Theresa May “on notice” following widespread anger at the terms of a post-Brexit transition deal struck with Brussels.

Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May delivers her speech at the Conservative Partys Spring Forum in London. Picture: Getty Images

Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May delivers her speech at the Conservative Partys Spring Forum in London. Picture: Getty Images

In a ten-minute meeting at Downing Street with the Prime Minister and Environment Secretary Michael Gove, the group were given assurances that the UK will take full control of its fishing waters in 2021, once the 21-month transition period elapses.

READ MORE: Brexit deal sparks furious row over Scotland’s fishing industry
Fishing industry leaders were dismayed by the transition deal announced by David Davis in Brussels on Monday, which committed the UK to observing EU quotas until the end of 2020, despite leaving the common fisheries policy (CFP) in March 2019 and no longer being represented at quota-setting summits.

The UK will have its share of the catch in British waters frozen, and will be consulted on any decisions for 2020.

Scottish Tory MPs and their leader, Ruth Davidson, said they group of 12 backbenchers at Westminster could vote against a final Brexit deal that fails to take back control of British fishing waters.

Borders MP John Lamont said: “The government should be clear that they are on notice – no deal for fishermen, and they will have to think again on the terms of our departure.”

Mr Gove was summoned to the House of Commons to face questions over the deal and said he was “disappointed” with the transition, but promised a “significant prize” for the fishing industry once it was over.

As recently as December, Mr Gove had promised a swift exit from CFP quotas, within eight to ten months of Brexit day.

The Liberal Democrat MP for Orkney and Shetland, Alistair Carmichael, told Mr Gove that “the mood in fishing communities today is one of palpable anger”.

“This is not what they were promised,” Mr Carmichael said. “The basic question that the secretary of state has to answer is this – if they can let us down over the deal for a transitional period, how do we know that they will not do it again when it comes to the final deal? When it comes to it, will they trade away access to waters for access to markets or anything else?”

Mr Gove told MPs that the agreement requires both sides to act in “good faith” during the transition. “Any attempt by the EU to operate in a way that would harm the fishing industry would breach that obligation,” he said. “There is a significant prize at the end of the implementation period and it is important that all of us in every area accept that the implementation period is a necessary step towards securing that prize.”

SNP MP Stephen Gethins dismissed yesterday’s Downing Street meeting, saying: “Scottish Tory MPs will now roll over and revert to their normal place as Westminster lobby fodder.”

READ MORE: SNP call on Ruth Davidson to apologise over fishing ‘sell-out’