UK Government Minister accused of ‘complacency’ after labelling Brexit fishing chaos ‘teething problems’
A UK Government Minister has been accused of “breathtaking complacency” after labelling the Brexit fishing chaos as “teething problems”.
DEFRA Secretary George Eustice today insisted the problems were being worked out during an urgent debate in Parliament led by the Orkney and Shetland MP Alistair Carmichael.
It comes as Scottish seafood deliveries to the EU have been halted until January 18 because of Brexit.
Mr Eustice said: “We are looking and working very closely with industry on this matter.
“We’re having twice a week meetings with all of the key stakeholders, all of the key sectors to help them understand these issues.
“They are only teething problems - once people get used to using the paperwork goods will flow normally.
“I am aware that the Prime Minister mentioned yesterday that the government remains open to considering compensation for sectors that might have been affected through no fault of their own.
"We will look closely at this issue, but in the meantime, we are going to work very closely with industry to ensure that we can iron out these difficulties.”
His defence comes as it emerged some fish prices have plummeted by 80 per cent at Peterhead Fish Market, while a third of Scotland's fishing fleet is now tied up in the harbour.
Responding to his comments, Mr Carmichael claimed his answer was even worse than Victoria Prentis, who yesterday admitted not reading the deal “because it was Christmas Eve”.He said: “Repeating the Prime Minister’s blithe assertion that all the disruption for fishermen is just ‘teething problems’ suggests a total lack of engagement with the real issues which are growing day by day.
“It is frankly insulting to the industry that he is already backtracking on the PM’s offer of compensation yesterday.
“Continuing to boast about increased quota shares when fishermen know that much of this is "paper fish" that we will never catch adds insult to injury.
“At the moment Scottish Fishermen cannot get their product past Larkhall.
“George Eustice entirely ignored my offer to set up a meeting with those affected – he needs to recognise that whatever he thinks he is doing it is not good enough.”
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