Jacob Rees-Mogg: It's the EU's fault fishermen struggle to sell to Europe - not Brexit

4 April 2022, 10:11 | Updated: 4 April 2022, 10:12

Jacob Rees-Mogg has said the EU is to blame for fishing export costs, not Brexit
Jacob Rees-Mogg has said the EU is to blame for fishing export costs, not Brexit. Picture: Alamy

By Will Taylor

It is the EU's fault that fishermen are facing higher export costs, not Brexit, Jacob Rees-Mogg has insisted.

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The cabinet minister for Brexit opportunities told LBC's Nick Ferrari at Breakfast that that the "rules the EU applies on the UK are not under our control" in the wake of Britain’s departure.

"They have a freedom to apply rules to us and we do to them"” he said after a caller challenged him over the costs facing fishing companies who want to export their food to the bloc.

"The EU is very cross that we left and they want to make life as difficult as possible," Mr Rees-Mogg said.

He added: "If the EU, or member states of the EU, want to import these goods they will need to make it reasonable to do so and they have made some ameliorations to those rules since we finally left because they actually want to buy these goods and so it becomes market forces that determine the level of regulation."

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But he was challenged by Robin, a caller from Newlyn in Cornwall, said he had been in the fishing industry for 50 years.

Robin said the EU rules had been in place for two decades and are imposed on any "third country" – as the UK became when it left the bloc.

Robin said they guaranteed the EU's food security and standards.

Mr Rees-Mogg fired back: "The EU regulations have always been a form of protectionism, that the UK industry is not fundamentally less safe than it was before we left the European Union."

He accused the bloc of using non-tariff barriers to protect its domestic market, saying "that's what it has always done, that was one of the problems with the EU, because it forces prices up for consumers".

He also claimed that even though British fishermen might have more problems exporting to the EU, they would enjoy a more sizeable territory to fish in because of future reductions in foreign vessels trawling in UK waters.

He added: "I accept Robin's point that the EU is applying non-tariff barriers to make life difficult for British fishermen but that is because of the doctrine of the European Union, not because of the doctrine of the UK government."

Fishing gained prominence during the Brexit referendum in 2016 as there were calls to kick foreign fishermen out of UK waters.

It has continued to be a point of contention in UK-European relations, culminating in a dispute centred on Jersey which saw French fishermen organise a protest while the Royal Navy dispatched ships to the Channel.

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