Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay has paved the way for France and other EU nations to exploit British waters even in the event of a no deal Brexit.
Mr Barclay, when grilled by MPs from the Exiting the European Union Select Committee, said the UK would seek a “continuity approach” with EU nations if no Brexit deal was reached with the bloc on October 31. The Brexit Secretary also stated EU countries could continue send its vessels into UK waters until the end of 2019. Mr Barclay said the UK would stay within the controversial Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) until at least December 31, as new quotas and access to markets will need to be finalised.
During a tense exchange, Mr Barclay was asked: “If there is no roll over of quotes from the CFP then many boats will be coming and fishing illegally in UK waters and visa-versa?”
The Brexit Secretary said: “No..we will continue for this year in terms of the arrangements to the end of December.”
Under intense scrutiny, Mr Barclay then later sought to clarify the position and stated the UK would “take back control”.
However, when pressed, he stated it would be in the “mutual interest to come to reciprocal arrangements”.
Select Committee Chairman, Hilary Benn MP, asked: “Is it the Government’s policy on November 1 in the event of a no deal Brexit, French fishing vessels will not be permitted to fish in UK waters?”
Mr Barclay said: “Legally in the event on no deal the UK Government takes control of UK waters.”
He added: “The policy will be to seek a continuity approach.”
However the Labour MP wanted further clarity, he asked: “In the absence of that then French fishing vessels will not have access to UK waters is that correct? “
Mr Barclay said: “That is the legal position in the event of no deal – but it is our mutual interest to come to reciprocal arrangements.”