Brexit: Ben Habib hits out at ‘peculiar’ fishing deal
The former Brexit party MEP hit out at the “peculiar” deal over control of fishing that was reached by Boris Johnson in the EU-UK trade talks. He argued that British fisherman should have been given the right to export fish “without too much paperwork,” instead Mr Habib claims the European Union was given “fantastic free access” to British fishing waters. He added that the “simple” negotiations with Brussels had seen the UK government “capitulate” on fishing rights against the “promises made to the British people.”
Mr Habib said: “It is a really peculiar situation, isn’t that, they have unfettered access to our water and you would have thought that your government in granting them this fantastic free access to British water we might have got in return the right to export our fish without too much paperwork.
“That was a simple negotiation, okay fine we will capitulate on fishing we will give you, against the promises to the British people, we are going to give up access to our water.”
The remarks prompted host Mike Graham to ask why fishing was a such a big issue given the small contribution the sector makes to the overall UK economy.
He said: “Most of the fish our fisherman catch go back to Europe and also it’s not a huge part of the economy of this country so I don’t understand why this is such a big issue.”
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Mr Habib replied: “That is a really good question and I think it needs to be addressed. Now it is only one per cent of GDP or slightly less but the point is not the value of it in proportion to GDP.
“The point is what would taking back control of fishing means for the 186 coastal constituencies, and we are old enough I think to remember what it was like to go to Brighton or to go to Hastings or Eastbourne when we were children.
“The vibrant communities that existed there, the vibrant piers, the fish and chips that you would get in your newspapers and all the hospitality and everything else that went with it.
“We had a really vibrant coastal community.”
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The post-Brexit trade deal thrashed out by Boris Johnson and the European Union gave fishermen from the bloc access to UK waters for five-and-a-half years with 25 percent of EU boats’ fishing rights in UK waters will be transferred to the UK fishing during that time.
When the so-called adjustment period ends in June 2026, annual talks will begin to determine the amount of fish EU fishing boats can catch in UK waters and vice versa.
Britain will then have the power to completely withdraw EU boats’ access to its waters and a new poll found a staggering 98 percent (4,167 people) would back such a move, even though Brussels could retaliate by suspending access to its own waters for UK boats or imposing costly tariffs on fish exports from the UK to the EU.
Just 2 percent (62 people) believed the UK would be wrong to scrap the fishing agreement in 2026.
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A total of 4,246 people took part in on the Express.co.uk online survey which ran between 10am and 6pm on Monday January 18 2021.
Another said: “Since the EU is refusing to sign off on the deal for a couple of months, we should immediately ban them from UK waters until they ratify!”
Another reader said: “They should scrap it now.”
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