LONDON – Chancellor Philip Hammond wants the UK to share its territorial waters with the European Union in order to gain leverage in negotiations on trade.
Hammond’s plans are a direct contradiction of the environment secretary Michael Gove’s plans for the UK to have sole control over its fishing territories after Brexit.
The chancellor is said to have challenged Gove on the issue, with Hammond wanting to use them as a tool in talks over future trade in order to secure concessions from the EU.
Brexit will see the UK take control over territorial waters of up to 200 miles off its coast, and an agreement on access for European fishing is a major priority for multiple governments.
Gove wants to see the government setting its own fishing quotas, while Hammond wants to share control with the EU, which would deny the fishing industry the reforms that many thought would come with Brexit.
Currently, 75% of British seafood exports are sold in the EU and there are fears that the EU would put high tariffs on British fish if the UK didn’t allow access to its territorial waters to countries within the bloc.
A Defra spokesperson told the Times newspaper: “Leaving the EU means we will take back control of our waters – with access granted on our terms and for the benefit of UK fishermen.we will allocate quotas on the basis of what is scientifically sustainable, making sure we have a healthy marine environment and profitable fishing industry in the UK.”
“We will allocate quotas on the basis of what is scientifically sustainable, making sure we have a healthy marine environment and profitable fishing industry in the UK.”
Gove appeared to offer a softer tone on Brexit when he visited Danish fishing leaders at the beginning of August.
The environment secretary told journalists that Danish fishing vessels would still catch “large amounts of fish” from British waters after Brexit, which caused a furious response from the Scottish government, who accused him of going behind their backs.
Gove said: “Danish fishermen will still be able to catch large amounts of fish in British waters, even if Britain leaves the EU.”