Brexit: Scottish Minister slams Royal Navy fisheries plans
The Prime Minister’s plan to send the 80-metre long vessels to inspect the UK’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) was ripped apart by Ireland’s Taoiseach Micheal Martin. And in a no deal warning he said the proposal “demonstrates the dangers of an acrimonious break-up” between the European Union and its former member state.
If the UK and Brussels fail to agree a deal, two ships will be sent out on January 1 while two others will remain in ports on standby.
The Royal Navy will have the power to stop EU fishing boats and carry out inspections.
Sailors will also have the authority to impound any trawler found illegally fishing in UK seas.
The threat drew comparisons with the infamous “cod wars” including the Third Cod War of the 1970s.
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The series of disputes between Britain and Iceland over the rights to fish in the North Atlantic laid bare how seriously nations took their fishing rights.
Each confrontation ended with Iceland winning.
The third war began after Iceland further extended its fishing limits to 200 nautical miles from its coast.
The UK Government refused to recognise the extra slice of the exclusion zone.
Mr Martin hit out at Britain’s plan to deploy the Navy to enforce fishing rules and protect the UK’s right of sovereignty over its waters.
He insisted that “Britain needs Europe, and Europe needs Britain” with just a fortnight to go until the Brexit transition period ends on December 31.
On the UK’s threat to police its own waters, he said: “All of that type of language isn’t helpful, although, depending on how you read a particular situation, all nations have their fisheries protection capacity.
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“Perhaps it demonstrates the dangers of an acrimonious break-up because dialogue matters more and we know from our history that dialogue is far better than conflict.
“In my discussions with Boris Johnson, I have always pointed out to him the interdependency of the fishing issue in terms of where they are found and where they end up.
“The real end is New Year’s Eve but both sides are very possessed of the need to try and get outcomes to these negotiations in the next numbers of days.”
The Taoiseach said while he remains hopeful that Lord Frost and Michel Barnier can agree a deal, he does not want to downplay the “very significant challenges” which remain on the issues of the so-called level playing field and fisheries.
The contentious topics remain the main stumbling blocks to a deal between London and Brussels.
Spain’s foreign minister Arancha Gonzalez was also critical of No10’s plan to use Royal Navy boats to enforce fishing rules in the event of a hard Brexit.
She accused Mr Johnson’s Government of lacking seriousness with their threat.
She said: “I think this is all for gallery, I don’t think this is serious – and by the way I don’t think this is needed.
“I think what would be more responsible is to sit down and agree what kind of relationship does the UK want with the European Union on fishing, again understanding that on this, like on the rest (of the issues), there are things for the UK to win, things for the EU to win – we just have to find this middle point.”
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