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Thursday, 29 March 2018

Derek Thomas, MP for St Ives and Newlyn, "Does Theresa May has the 'guts and resolve' to get Brexit right?"



Newlyn's fleet have the most to gain - and lose.



One Tory MP has questioned whether Theresa May has the 'guts and resolve' to get Brexit right - courtesy of the Breakfast Programme, Radio Cornwall.


St Ives MP Derek Thomas believes the biggest challenge lying ahead as the UK enters the last 12 months before it leaves the European Union in March 2019 will be to get fishing rights sorted. Speaking to BBC Radio Cornwall, the West Cornwall MP said the biggest hurdle to getting Brexit right was to support fishing fleets and communities around the UK, including of course in Cornwall which is home to one of the biggest fishing ports in England.

However he wondered if the Government was going about it the right way.



He said: "The work of setting up deals is well under way and there are deals being done around the world for when we leave, but the real challenge for us is that fishermen are understood and the way the government recognises that challenge and work in their interest.


"I share the fishermen's disappointment at the status quo over the next 21 months and the transition period. Brussels wants to keep the current quotas arrangements and wants to guarantee access to UK waters. That's not the Government's position and certainly not what the fishermen want.


"But it's not clear yet that the Government has the guts and the resolve to deliver for fishermen."

When pushed further on criticising his own side, he added: "I simply wonder if they have the guts and resolve."


Camborne MP and Fisheries Minister George Eustace, Newlyn Harbour Commissioner Kevin Bennets and Derek Thomas MP for St Ives, Penzance and Newlyn.


Mr Thomas, whose constituency includes Newlyn fishing port, said he has been hard at work with other Cornish MPs and MPs from Scotland and Northern Ireland to see that fishermen do not end up with a raw deal.

Newlyn Harbour. The town's fish market secured £1.3m from the EU this summer to become best in South West


He said: "I work extremely hard right now because there is a real opportunity for UK fishing and for UK Plc but at the moment it looks like there is very little clarity about where we are going at the moment."

Mr Thomas said Edward Heath gave fishing away in return for 'other stuff' and that has been a concern for the entire fishing community ever since. His comments come as fishing's contribution to the UK's GDP is tiny, smaller than the pet insurance industry. He added: "The impact on our coastal industry and how we should improve our diet, it's important that we get it right.


French trawlers entering Newlyn.

"Fishing contribution is so tiny because French vessels are getting several times the amount of fish from UK waters that we've been allowed to catch."


On March 29, 2019, the UK will formally leave the EU and is due to enter a 21-month transition period before the final arrangements kick in.

The UK and EU have provisionally agreed on the three "divorce" issues of how much the UK owes the EU, what happens to the Northern Ireland border and what happens to UK citizens living elsewhere in the EU and EU citizens living in the UK.  Talks are now moving on to future relations - after agreement was reached on a 21-month "transition" period to smooth the way to post-Brexit relations.


When asked to describe what Brexit means to him in three words, Derek Thomas told the radio presenter: "Getting fishing right."