Rees-Mogg mocked by French MEP over ‘happy’ fish claims – ‘He said this without laughing’

Grant Shapps gets quizzed over Rees-Mogg’s fishing comment

Nathalie Loiseau hit out at the Leader of the House of Commons whose comments came in response to SNP accusations that the Government had to sacrifice the Scottish fishing industry for Brexit with businesses struggling to get their products over to the continent. Mr Rees-Mogg claimed fish delayed for export because of the introduction of the post-Brexit fishing regime were “better and happier” because they were now British.

Fortunately in Europe we took fishermen seriously

Nathalie Loiseau

He told MPs: “The key is we’ve got our fish back. They’re now British fish and they’re better and happier fish for it.”

Ms Loiseau, who served as Emmanuel Macron’s Minister for European Affairs from 2017 to 2019, highlighted Mr Rees-Mogg’s remarks on social media and also took a dig at Fisheries Minister Victoria Prentis who admitted she was too busy organising a nativity trail to read Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal.

Ms Loiseau tweeted: “An MP who says without laughing that the fish have become happier because they are British, a Minister for Fisheries who admits not having read the agreement with the EU.

“Fortunately in Europe we took fishermen seriously. #Brexitmadness.”

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She then taunted British fish and seafood exporters who have been hit by costly border delays.

She said: “It turns out that due to Brexit red tape, in line with the British government red lines, the UK can clearly have its fish but the EU can hardly eat it.

“Should we call it the fishiest agreement in history?”

UK food minister George Eustice insisted the post-Brexit “teething issues” can be resolved.

Some EU importers have rejected truckloads of Scottish fish since January 1 because new requirements for catch certificates, health checks and export declarations meant they had taken too long to arrive.

Mr Eustice told parliament his staff had held meetings with Dutch, French and Irish officials to try to “iron out some of these teething problems”.

He said: “They are only teething problems. When people get used to using the paperwork goods will flow.”

Mr Eustice said with no grace period to introduce the rules, the industry was having to adapt to them in real time, dealing with such issues as what colour ink can be used to fill in forms.

A spokesman for Boris Johnson said the Government was looking at ways to compensate those affected by what he described as “temporary issues”.

But many logistics providers, now struggling to deliver goods in a timely manner, say the change to life outside the single market and customs union is much more significant and that while delivery times can improve, it will now cost more and take longer to export.

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To get fresh produce to EU markets, logistics providers now have to summarise the load, giving commodity codes, product types, gross weight, the number of boxes and value, plus other details.

Mistakes or missing documents can mean longer delays, hitting French importers that have also been hit by the increase in red tape.

SNP Commons leader Tommy Sheppard labelled it the “Brexit fishing disaster” and asked for a debate on compensation for the Scottish fishing industry.

He said: “Boats confined to harbour, lorry loads of seafood destroyed, the industry losing £1million a day as firms go bust – all as a result of Brexit red tape imposed by this Government.

(Additional reporting by Maria Ortega)

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