Michael Gove came under intense pressure on Tuesday from Scottish Tory MPs after the government agreed to allow the EU set the UK’s fishing quotas during the Brexit transition period.
The British fishing industry had wanted to gain full control over UK waters the moment the UK left the EU at the end of March 2019.
But the agreement struck between Brussels and London yesterday will delay the handover until the end of December 2020.
Douglas Ross, the Tory MP for Moray, told Gove in the Commons today there was “no way” he could sell the deal “as anything like a success” to fishing communities in his constituency.
Yesterday he said the deal would be harder to swallow than a “pint of cold sick”.
Berwickshire MP John Lamont told Gove: “Like many fishermen across Scotland, I feel very badly let down by this deal.
“We are not going to be taking control of our waters as quickly as we had hoped.”
And Banff and Buchan Tory MP David Durgid warned the environment secretary: “We owe a debt to our fishing communities and we must not guarantee to the EU at the end of this implementation period any level of access in favor of a longer term trade deal.”
Ross Thomson, Tory MP for Aberdeen South, said: “I share the disappointment of north-east fisherman – the transition deal falls short of what they hoped for.”
Conservative Bill Grant (Ayr, Carrick and Cumnock) asked for guarantees that control of UK seas will “not be sacrificed on the altar of Brexit”.
Jacob Rees-Mogg, the leading backbench Tory Brexiteer, attacked Gove’s “tone” and suggested the government had not tried hard enough to get control of UK fishing waters. “What did we get in return?” he asked.
Rees-Mogg this morning was forced to deny he planned to throw fish off a boat into the Thames in protest at the deal.
Gove argued that Britain would control its fishing waters “totally” when it leaves the EU.
He said the delay was worth it to secure the “big prize” of a transition period that allowed the UK to “prepare for all the benefits that Brexit will bring”.