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The real reason why Boris wanted the fish

With the final ratification of the EU/U.K. BREXIT deal edging ever closer (30th April) the once presumed ‘done deal’ is looking ever more tenuous as Scottish devolution remains a huge threat and the situation in Northern Ireland remains fragile.

In his eagerness appease the Ulster Unionists that are furious with the Northern Ireland Protocol, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was forced to disrespect international law in order to provide an extra reprieve on the border across the Irish sea.

But that is only temporary and this is one problem that will not just disappear as both pre and post BREXIT the fear is that Boris’s legacy changes from the man who achieved BREXIT to the man who broke up the Union.

Every opportunity Nicola Sturgeon gets she is promoting devolution for Scotland. Remember the Scots (62% voted remain) and in Glasgow and Edinburgh the vote was ‘remain’ 66.6% and 74.4% respectively!

So, the Scots overwhelmingly wanted to stay in the EU and meanwhile Northern Ireland’s vote of 56% remain echoed Scotland’s preference.

While Westminster wanted to placate the Scottish Tories, they promised fish and, if one also looks at the timing of the U.K. claiming sovereignty over Rockall in June of 2019, this was a statement of intent to Scottish conservatives.

The EU subscribed to this because the powerhouse economies want stability and economic harmony.

They wanted a Brexit that was done and dusted and not one that brought years of collateral damage in its wake.

However, in much the same way as George W. Bush had to finish the job his father had started and walked away from, the same thing is destined to happen at some stage with BREXIT.

It was a fundamentally wrong decision for the country – and, for many, it represents economic treason on the part of the main protagonists (most of whom like Nigel Farage have since gone off the grid).

It created more problems than it has solved and the true damage will only manifest itself when it is too late.

Fishing - the casualty of devolution politics

For those not yet aware, a quick Google search will reveal the level of dissatisfaction in the U.K. fishing industry with a developing situation that, despite what some might think, leaves them far from being the ‘winners’ out of the BREXIT deal.

And, as reported this week by Quentin Bates in, the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation’s (SFF) letter to the Prime Minister setting out its criticisms of the Trade and Co-operation Agreement (TCA) with the EU has been replied to from No. 10 Downing Street but a similar letter of concern from the National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisations (NFFO) who represent the fishing industry south of the border has been ignored.

This is raising speculation that Scotland may be getting priority as elections for the Scottish Parliament are due in May, with a second referendum on the Union hanging in the balance.

“Fears are mounting south of the border that the lion’s share of additional quota secured as part of that Christmas Eve deal will be used to placate nationalist sentiments in Scotland,” writes Quentin Bates.

An NFFO spokesman added that there is also the question of how the £100 million, that has been put aside for the fishing industry, as the booby prize, will be allocated.

“Joint Fisheries Statements, currently in development, that will form the basis of future domestic fisheries policy is another area where English nervousness is marked,” he said, further commenting that the industry south of the border has long pointed to the anomaly that, unlike the devolved administrations, it has no ministerial champion, unencumbered by dual responsibilities for the UK and England.

The signal that is being sent out – Scotland matters, England doesn’t– NFFO

“Bulk pelagic landings boost Scotland’s claim to be the pre-eminent fishing nation in the UK but in fact there are more boats and fishermen outside Scotland than inside,” the NFFO stated, adding: “there are real fears that their interests will be marginalised in the forthcoming scramble to save the union.”

The NFFO is looking for equity and fairness in the way the English fleet is treated and claim that fishing is markedly more diverse in England than north of the border and faces the challenge of continued access for EU to fish within six miles of the shoreline in additional to acute quota shortages.

“Export difficulties affect English exporters every bit as much as those of Scotland, but it is the latter that hits the headlines and for which a dedicated taskforce has been established,” the NFFO’s spokesman said, adding that leaving aside whether a taskforce can add value to what is already being done is a moot point, but it is the signal that is being sent – Scotland matters, England doesn’t – that is the general perception around the English coastline.

“The current real and present danger, as we try to find a way forward after the catastrophic outcome of the TCA, is that we will now be forced to play second fiddle to devolution and independence politics,” the NFFO said.

In summary, IFSA Chairman Cormac Burke says that Boris Johnson has set the precedent for breaking away from a disconnected regime that fails to serve the interests of peripheral regions - - “but for Scotland it seems Westminster was, and still is, less appealing than Brussels. Who could blame them?”

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