Fishermen: EU ‘Like Bully Who Steals Your Lunch’ and ‘Expects You to Be Grateful for a Few Crumbs Back’

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Scottish fishermen have slammed the EU behaving “like the bully who steals your lunch every day and expects you to be grateful for the few crumbs he hands back” as it continues to push for control over Britain’s fisheries.

The European Economic Community, as the European Union then was, changed its rules to give Brussels control over national fishing waters shortly before the United Kingdom joined in the 1970s, bringing the richest fishing waters in western Europe with it.

The EU currently doles out more than half of those stocks to other EU member-states — Britain left the bloc at the beginning of 2020 but remains a member in all but name through the ongoing “transition” period — and has over the years overseen massive job losses in the British fishing industry, with thousands of British fishermen either driven out of business or paid to destroy their vessels.

Survivors had looked forward to regaining their lost fisheries after the vote to Leave the European Union back in 2016 but, despite EU loyalists having repeatedly played down the economic importance of fishing, the bloc has been fighting tooth and nail to retain its current control Britain’s waters, threatening to refuse a trade deal if they do not get it.

The British government has claimed it will not give way, but man Brexiteers fear they will break their word, particularly with the departure of former Vote Leave campaign mastermind Dominic Cummings having left Boris Johnson’s team, which Brussels hailed as a potential turning point.

With the transition set to expire at the end of 2020 and a no-deal on the horizon, EU negotiators are widely reported to be attempting to entice their British governments with an offer on fisheries which would see Britain’s catch increased by a meagre 15 per cent to 18 per cent — an offer the Scottish Fishermen Association has denounced as “paltry”.

“Maybe, just maybe, they are at last waking up to smell the fish. They have made a small offer to give us a paltry extra share. It would be less than 10 per cent of the total catch. Of the fish of which we now the legal owner,” commented association chief executive Elspeth MacDonald, incredulous.

“It is like the bully who steals your lunch every day and expects you to be grateful for the few crumbs he hands back,” she told the Telegraph.

MacDonald insisted the government must not give into EU demands for control over British fisheries as, in effect, the “ransom” for a trade deal, saying they should be told that “they can kiss goodbye to any fisheries deal” and “face the consequences: No access to our waters”.

Britain already agreed to pay an exorbitant sum of money towards the EU’s budget in order to demonstrate goodwill at the start of the negotiations — a concession which does not appear to have achieved any reciprocal action on the EU’s part.

Brexit leader Nigel Farage has previously said fisheries will be the “acid test” of Brexit: “have we got back our territorial waters; are we like Norway, Iceland, the Faroese, are we in control [again]”.

If not, he suggested, a true Brexit will not have been achieved.

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