Boris Johnson’s battle with the EU over a new fishing agreement has been halted by the coronavirus crisis but Tory MP John Redwood is confident the UK has already won the first round of Brexit talks.
Britain and the EU’s determination to deal with the coronavirus crisis has resulted in Brexit talks stalling. However, Brexiteer and Tory MP John Redwood argued Prime Minister Boris Johnson had already taken control of the fishing issue in the Brexit talks. During an interview with Express.co.uk, Mr Redwood insisted the Prime Minister had made clear the UK was not prepared to give fish away in hopes of a better trade deal.
He added the fishing industry had become a crucial pillar of the Brexit argument and the EU would have to realise this.
He said: “The UK has won the first round on that by having parallel talks on fishing and trade in eight other major areas.
“The UK is not saying we agree to give you fish first before anything else, that is important.
“But going forward Boris Johnson must make clear to the EU that we do not see a fish trade-off even in parallel talks.
”So the UK should not be saying: of course, we will give you a few more fish if you give us a better trade deal.
“The UK doesn’t have to pay for a trade deal and you don’t have to pay for it in fish.”
Mr Redwood explained how fish and the fishing industry became an integral part of the Brexit argument.
He said: “I think fish became one of the most iconic features of Brexit and those that voted for Brexit.
”We felt the fishing industry had been particularly badly damaged by common policy and it was one of those areas of our economy that had been under more European control for longer.”
Mr Redwood went on to outline the damaging impact EU influence on the UK fishing market had over the years.
The Tory MP said: “We ended up with a very damaged fishery where too much of the stock had been run down by big industrial trawlers.
“We ended up with a fishery where we have far fewer fishing vessels, fisherman and women of our own.
“We ended up a net importer of fish when we have one of the best fishing grounds in the world.
“We used to be a great net exporter of fish before we joined the European economic community.”
The Tory Brexiteer closed by reflecting on the positive future Britain’s fishing industry can expect outside of the European Union.
He said: “Brexiteers accept that the Government has offered us a return to an independent fishery under our control.
“There will be annual talks as Norway and Iceland have with the European Union.
“Given the richness and the importance of British waters, I hope we cover the main goals of policy which is to process more of our own fish so that we build a strong fishing industry.”