Boris Johnson has claimed British fishers should prepare for an “El Dorado” despite many experiencing difficulties post-Brexit.
The Prime Minister blamed “complications over form-filling” for the “barriers” some fishers are facing, but told MPs things will improve and fabulous riches await.
Speaking in the Commons, Labour former minister Ben Bradshaw said: “When the Prime Minister told fishermen in the South-West that they would not face new export barriers or unnecessary form-filling, and when he told Britain’s musicians and artists they would still be free to tour and work in the rest of the European Union after Brexit, neither of those statements were correct, were they Prime Minister?”
Mr Johnson responded: “It is absolutely true that some British fishermen have faced barriers at the present time owing to complications over form-filling and indeed one of the biggest problems is that, alas, there is a decline in appetite for fish in continental markets just because most of the restaurants, as he knows, are shut.
“The reality is that Brexit will deliver and is delivering a huge uplift in quota, already the next five years, and by 2026 the fishing people of this country will have access to all the fish in all the territorial waters of this country.
“To get them ready for that El Dorado, we’re investing £100 million in improving our boats, our fish processing industry and getting fishing ready for the opportunities ahead.”
SDLP MP Claire Hanna (Belfast South) also urged Mr Johnson to “be straight with the people of Northern Ireland” over Brexit.
She said: “Contrary to the view of every political party here and all of those involved in logistics and retail, (Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis) said last week that there’s no border in the Irish Sea and that disruption to supplies was a Covid issue and nothing to do with Brexit or the Protocol.
“The papers are reporting (the Prime Minister) plans to woo (US President Joe Biden’s) administration through the topic of Northern Ireland.
“As they and we try to move on from Trump and Trump-ism, would being straight with the people of Northern Ireland not be a good start?”
Mr Johnson responded: “As (Ms Hanna) I think may know from what I think I said to the Liaison Committee several times, the proof of the pudding is in the … actually there’s more transit now taking place between Larne and Stranraer and Cairnryan than there is between Holyhead and Dublin because it’s going so smoothly.”