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Leaked Brexit email: May pleads with Scottish Tories over fishing rights



Theresa May and Ruth DavidsonDan
Kitwood / Getty

  • Exclusive: Leaked email shows Theresa May’s government
    plead with Scottish Conservatives to back her Brexit deal amid
    growing concerns about fishing rights after Brexit.
  • Some Scottish Tories have accused the Prime Minister of
    trading away British fishing rights as part of her Brexit
  • The prime minister is on a charm offensive as she
    struggles to win over large numbers of potential Conservative
  • The draft Brexit political declaration was published
    today to fury from Conservative Brexiteers.

LONDON — Theresa May’s government has pleaded with Scottish
Conservatives to support the Brexit political declaration
announced on Thursday amid growing concern north of the border
that May is preparing to surrender British fishing rights.

In an email leaked to Business Insider, with the subject heading
“FISH”, a Downing Street official runs through each of the
concerns raised by Scottish MPs about the deal agreed in

The Downing Street official insists that the UK will be an
“independent coastal state” which is able to “negotiate and
decide” its quotas and fishing arrangements once it has left the
European Union.

It also tries to shoot down criticisms of the UK government’s
approach to fishing in Brexit talks, claiming that “like Norway
and Iceland” the UK’s fishing waters will form a “separate
agreement” to any future economic deals with the EU.

Here is an excerpt from the leaked email:

Theresa May Scotland Brexit emailAdam Payne/Business Insider

Theresa May Scotland Brexit fishing emailAdam Payne/Business Insider

Theresa May Scotland Brexit fishing emailAdam Payne/Business Insider

Scottish Conservative MPs are split on the issue, with Ross
Thompson, the Conservative MP for Aberdeen South today accusing
the government of sacrificing UK fishing rights for a deal.

He tweeted: “This means
sovereignty over our waters sacrificed for a trade deal. That is
unacceptable. We must be a normal Independent coastal state like

Last week, Scottish Conservative MPs also wrote to May, warning
the prime minister that “access and quota shares cannot be
included in the Future Economic Partnership” with the European
Union after Brexit.

However, Scottish Conservative MP Andrew Bowie told
the New Statesman
that MPs should now focus on getting a good
future deal on fishing instead.

The Scotland Secretary David Mundell is also supporting the deal
and refused to resign from the government last week despite
previously privately raising his concerns about the Brexit
Withdrawal Agreement. Mundell
told ITV
that he didn’t want to be part of a “sort of soap
opera of resignations.”

France, Denmark, Holland and
Belgium have all pushed
for the political declaration
published to say that the continuation of current arrangements
for fishing access should be a precondition of a full UK-EU trade

Quota shares of fish are currently allocated according to an EU
formula, to the anger of British fishermen who say that fishing
vessels from elsewhere in the EU have too much access to British

The political declaration is noticeably vague on the subject of
fishing post-Brexit, saying only that both sides will “use their
best endeavours to conclude and ratify their new fisheries
agreement by 1 July 2020.”

Today’s draft Brexit political declaration triggered furious
responses from Conservative MPs representing fishing communities
in other parts of the UK.

Conservative MP for South East Cornwall Sheryll Murray told the
Times: “The Prime Minister wants to commit us to stay in the
Common Fisheries Policy in all but name. She seeks to enter a new
fisheries agreement on access to waters and quota shares. Let’s
be clear. This is a betrayal of Brexit.”

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