Angus MP, Mike Weir, fears the UK Government could ‘sell the Arbroath fishing industry down the river’ for a second time as part of a Brexit trade-off deal.
The Conservatives released their Brexit plans in a 76-page document at the end of last week after the House of Commons voted to give Prime Minister Theresa May permission to invoke Article 50.
The content of the Brexit plan will be debated at the House of Commons on Tuesday and on Wednesday but MR Weir fears the proposals could go back on the Leave campaign’s promise to ‘reclaim the UK waters’.
A solitary paragraph on page 41 of the plans states: “Given the heavy reliance on UK waters of the EU fishing industry and the importance of EU waters to the UK, it is in both our interests to reach a mutually beneficial deal that works for the UK and the EU’s fishing communities.”
This paragraph mirrors a Scottish Office memo in November 1970 – during the Conservative Government’s negotiations to join the EU – said: “In the wider UK context, they [the fishermen] must be regarded as expendable.”
And Mr Weir, who has also cited fears that the Arbroath Smokie could lose it’s protected status under Brexit, said: “The fishing industry in Scotland was sold down the river by a previous Tory Government in negotiations to enter the EU but the Leave campaign made a big play of the fact that we could regain our waters.
“It now appears that this Tory Government is now prepared to again to sell off our fishing industry for trade-offs in things they are more interested in such as finance and the car industry.
“What remains of fishing in Arbroath is still important to the local economy and it’s absolutely critical that we don’t do anything to adversely affect that.
“I raised the issue of the Arbroath Smokie and its protection under the EU PGI scheme in Parliament and have yet to receive a satisfactory answer.”
Arbroath has successfully converted its harbour into a marina in recent years but Weir is keen to protect its fishing industry.