Go fishing for contradictions – and you will catch the SNP

Go fishing for contradictions – and you will catch the SNP

by Ian Duncan MEP
article from Monday 1, May, 2017

THE UK FISHING INDUSTRY is challenging candidates in the General Election to pledge their support for the restoration of UK control of UK waters. At the launch of the campaign in the House of Commons, MPs were literally queuing up to sign the pledge. If there is one European policy that is widely discredited, even amongst supporters of the EU, it is the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP).

The pledge demands the signatories ‘avoid any policy, practice, regulation or treaty which could return us to the Common Fisheries Policy and the enforced giveaway of almost two-thirds of our fish stocks.’ As the Chief Executive of the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation, Bertie Armstrong, explained, ‘The whole industry, from those who go to sea through the processors to the hauliers, is united behind one simple aim – our coming out of the EU and the CFP’.

It was therefore slightly surprising to learn that several SNP MP’s signed the pledge, given the SNP’s commitment to re-joining the EU at the earliest opportunity. For one thing is crystal clear, the CFP is a non-negotiable part of EU membership. It is part of the European Union’s Acquis Communautaire, the body of law to which all aspirant member states must commit. So important is fisheries law, that a whole negotiating chapter is devoted to it.

Despite this, Mike Russell, the Scottish Brexit minister is on record stating that Scotland could re-join the EU without re-joining the Common Fisheries Policy. Pull the other one Mike, its got dolphins on it. It may get his fellow nationalists off the hook on a charge of hypocrisy but it is pure fantasy. You might think there was an election round the corner.

Last month nationalists rejoiced at the suggestion an independent Scotland be ‘fast tracked’ into the EU, whilst Spain’s traditional opposition seemed to be softening. At the time I noted that the issue had never been about vetoes, rather is about what you have to give up to avoid a veto.

One thing is clear, seeking an opt out from the Common Fisheries Policy will slow any membership talks to a crawl, and have the Spanish reaching for their vetoing pen. Not a single MEP I have spoken with has been willing to countenance an opt-out from the CFP. Not one. And the European Parliament has to vote through all membership applications!

For all the challenges that we face during the Brexit negotiations, one thing is clear, Scottish fishermen will no longer be subject to the Common Fisheries Policy. As the fishermen themselves have long said, a sea of opportunity lies ahead.

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