Hook line and sinker: Scottish fishermen revisited
A while back we published this well read blog. In it we predicted that the Scottish fishing industry would be used as a bargaining chip during the Brexit negotiations.
We said the industry might even end up with a worse deal. There is the potential that fishing quotas could remain static while export tariffs could be imposed, making it harder to sell fish. We were just speculating based on the way the industry has been treated in the past by UK governments. Although it was just an opinion, the blog annoyed many of the fishermen who voted for Brexit.
This week the UK government published their article 50 white paper. The paper contained a section that gave us an insight into how the government intend to proceed with regards to fishing:
This doesn’t seem like an intention to take back control of British waters and return the fleets to a bygone golden era.
The white paper is recognising that British waters are more important to the EU than they are to Britain. It is suggesting that a deal will be done that will be beneficial to EU fishing communities.
When you combine this with the ambitious trade strategy outlined in the white paper which is, broadly speaking, to have free trade with the EU and special deals for more important industries without free movement of people, you can see how this could go badly wrong for the fishermen. The main powers in Europe have stated that their main goal is to keep the EU project alive. They are not willing to incentivise other countries to leave.
You could easily see a situation arise where fishing is put in a bad situation in order for the UK government to get closer to its other goals.
You could also envisage a situation where the EU impose tariffs as it would be too damaging to the project to let the UK have their cake and eat it.
Anyway, last time we got stick when we wrote about fishing. We are not saying our predictions will definitely come to be but we just think they are the likely outcome given the lie of the land. Only time will tell.
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If you were around in the 1970s, you may remember the Heath government being criticised for getting a poor deal for fishing on entry to the European Economic Community in 1973. In his political diaries published over 2009-11, Chris Mullin (former Labour MP for Sunderland South) recalled that Tory negotiators had let down the interests of the fishing industry, located principally in east coast communities stretching from the north of England northwards through Scotland. He described Conservative ministers John Major and Geoffrey Rippon poring over constituency maps to see how many Tory MPs might be at risk in fishing constituencies… Read more »
Completely agree with this point. This week we see a leaked document showing that fishing is a medium priority for UK GOV and oil is a low one. I would imagine both of these would be high up on the Scottish government priorities. I agree that Westminster isn’t biased against Scottish people, it’s just simply that in UK context we are not that important. The leaked document showed that what is really important is the city of London.