The Prime Minister struck a trade agreement with the European Union on Christmas Eve after months of negotiations. But the Brexit deal has been attacked by the fishing industry – with Barrie Deas, chief executive of the National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisations (NFFO), claiming Mr Johnson has “bottled it”.
Express.co.uk readers reacted with fury to claims of a fishing sell out
Commenting on this website, one reader blasted: “Boris Betrayed us. The deal achieved is Brexit by name only. Conservatives are finished.
“We need a New Political party in the U.K. that is going to fight for Britain.”
Another wrote: “Yes, British Fishermen have been sold out AGAIN. So much for taking back control when it’s the EU that is dictating how much they will take and how much we will take.”
A third fumed: “Boris has sold out our Fisherman, and he wont be ever forgiven for that come the next GE.”
Another raged: “Boris never had any intention of keeping his red line promise on fishing and until the small print is scrutinized and approved Brexit is only a smokescreen for May’s BRINO.”
A fifth added: “It’s the common fisheries policy undisguised and unchanged. Some victory.”
One more commented: “Bojo ain’t no Maggie! This dirty deal is BRINO not BREXIT!”
Fishing was one of the biggest sticking points in trade talks between the UK and the EU.
Under the deal, the share of fish in British waters that the UK can catch will rise from about half now to two-thirds by the end of the five-and-a-half-year transition.
Mr Johnson told a Downing Street press conference on Thursday: “I think that was a reasonable transition period and I can assure great fish fanatics in this country that we will, as a result of this deal, be able to catch and eat quite prodigious quantities of extra fish.”
But Mr Deas insisted the Prime Minister has “bottled it” over fishing rights as his deal has secured “a fraction of what the UK has a right to under international law”.
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The industry leader said: “When push came to shove, despite the legal, moral and political strength of our case, fishing was sacrificed for other national objectives.
“Lacking legal, moral, or political negotiating leverage on fish, the EU made the whole trade deal contingent on a UK surrender on fisheries.
“In the end-game, the Prime Minister made the call and caved in on fish, despite the rhetoric and assurances that he would not do what Ted Heath did in 1973.”
Mr Deas added the deal “will inevitably be seen by the fishing industry as a defeat”.
An industry source said “a lot of fishers will be bitterly disappointed” by the agreement, but added: “Perhaps they had unrealistic expectations fuelled by the blowhard Brexit PR.”
However a senior member of the UK’s negotiating team has defended the Brexit deal.
They described fish as “one of the areas where we had to compromise somewhat” and insisted this was done by “both sides”.
The official said: “The crucial thing on fisheries policy is that although there is a transition, at the end of the transition it returns to normal arrangements and we have full control over our waters.
“There’s a transition to that point and ideally we would’ve got out of it a bit faster, but where we’ve got to is acceptable and offers gains for the fisheries industry in the short run and a huge right to control everything and work within that after this five-and-a-half-year transition.”
The 1,246-page deal between the UK and the EU was officially published this morning.