Michael Gove pledges to do 'whatever is required' to protect British fisherman post-Brexit

Britain has been told EU nationals must be hired to undertake additional paperwork on exports, an MP has claimed, as Michael Gove said “whatever is required” will be done to support fisherman post-Brexit..

By Geraldine Scott
Thursday, 11th February 2021, 11:51 am
Updated Thursday, 11th February 2021, 12:01 pm

Cabinet Office minister Mr Gove acknowledged today that there are “bureaucratic obstacles” to negotiate and navigate with Brussels, as he was pressed to support “retaliation” against member state vessels given the current difficulties experienced by the British industry.

And Great Grimsby Conservative MP Lia Nici said: “Grimsby fish exporters are reporting to me that despite the EU agreement for free trade, French ports are introducing additional paperwork and extra costs. They’re even insisting that we hire EU nationals to do that additional work.

“Will (Mr Gove) take this matter up so that we can make sure the people of the EU continue to enjoy the highest quality seafood in Europe processed in Great Grimsby?”

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Michael Gove. Photo: PA

Mr Gove responded: “Well, (Ms Nici) is absolutely right, the highest quality seafood in the whole of Europe is produced in Great Grimsby, indeed I remember my dad when he ran a fish processing business sending some of the fish that he bought at Aberdeen fish market to Grimsby for subsequent processing and it was enjoyed on tables across Europe.

“And she’s absolutely right that there are still some bureaucratic obstacles that we need to negotiate and navigate.

“We have set up a specific seafood exports working group which meets twice weekly and we’re also engaging with our friends in France in order to make sure they can continue to enjoy Great Grimsby fish.”

Ms Nici’s concerns were echoed by Conservative MP Sheryll Murray (South East Cornwall), who said: “Fishing exporters in my constituency are having problems exporting to the EU.

“We signed a deal that said we could export to the EU.

“What action is (Mr Gove) taking to ensure these exports happen without hindrance and will he start boarding EU vessels in retaliation if we still see this obstructive action on the part of the European Union?”

Mr Gove responded: “What we do need to do is make sure that any bureaucratic obstructions which individual EU member states may still be applying are lifted and of course as I mentioned… we will reserve our rights as an independent coastal state to do whatever is required in order to make sure that our fishermen are backed up every step of the way.”

Mr Gove also used Cabinet Office questions, in answer to a query from Penistone and Stocksbridge Tory MP Miriam Cates, to announce a £20m Brexit support fund to help small and medium-sized businesses “adjust to new customs rules of origin and VAT rules” when trading with the EU.

But shadow Cabinet Office minister Jack Dromey urged Mr Gove to apologise for the disruption “inflicted” upon British businesses.