A Week in Parliament

The Brexit farce continues with yet another Ministerial resignation. Has there ever been a more incompetent or unstable Government in recent times? Only the end days of the John Major Tory Government can be comparable. Yet, the Prime Minister is blithely touring the UK with stage managed media events to promote her “deal”.

Then you look at two of the senior positions within the Cabinet – Amber Rudd is DWP Secretary only months after being forced to resign after “inadvertently misleading “ parliament over deportation targets. The phrase the man on the street may have used was lying about this matter. Then there is Liam Fox, the International Trade Secretary, who resigned previously for breaching the Ministerial Code, in his role as Defence Secretary. This was because he broke security clearance issues and conflicts of interest by giving government access to his friend and best man, Adam Werrity. I am all for rehabilitation, but it seems some politicians can just continue unabashed. Are these really the people to be trusted to be senior UK positions? Is it any surprise that Liam Fox’s past comments in his new role include slagging British businesses “for spending too much time on the golf course?” Or that a trade deal with the EU would be the “easiest in human history”? It seems his judgement still needs significant improvement, but the UK is reliant on him being able to negotiate skilfully.

Fishing Post Brexit

Future fishing quotas have become headline news. At times it seems this is the most important aspect of Brexit. There is no doubt that fishing is so important to the coastal communities that still rely on the industry. However, there is a reality that within the wider UK economy, the entire fishing and seafood industry only accounts for 0.1% of GDP. The actual marine fishing itself is 0.02% of UK GDP. This is why Ted Heath the Tory Prime Minister said the Scottish fishermen were “expendable”. From his perspective, he was more than happy to trade Scottish fishing quotas for other trade benefits. As a guilty hangover, this is why Tory MPs have made such a big deal about fishing, although over the years they managed to shift the blame to the EU and Common Fisheries Policy.

The actual position is much more complicated – 75% of fish caught gets exported to the EU. Therefore, a trade deal without tariffs is needed to allow that seafood to be exported. A customs agreement is required so the seafood gets exported without delay. These aspects are much more important to the majority of Scottish fishermen, who work in small boats. Yet, there is a risk these matters are overlooked because of the powerful lobby of the Scottish Fishing Federation (SFF), which can be dominated by the big players who have the supersize vessels that catch 80% of the fish, despite being small in number. This is also why the fishermen closest to our area, the west coast based ones have pulled out the SFF. These are aspects I will be weighing up as a member of the Fisheries Bill Committee.

These views were first expressed in the Kilmarnock Standard.