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Craig Mackinlay blasts ‘completely unacceptable’ European Parliament plan to maintain existing fishing quotas post-Brexit

PUBLISHED: 17:48 15 February 2017 | UPDATED: 07:45 16 February 2017

Fishing boats in Whitstable harbour

Fishing boats in Whitstable harbour

Archant

A leaked European Parliament memo seen by the Guardian says there will be “no increase to the UK’s share of fishing opportunities for jointly fished stocks

Craig Mackinlay has branded a reported move by the European Parliament to block Britain’s bid to gain full control of its fishing waters post-Brexit as “completely unacceptable”.

A leaked European Parliament memo obtained by the Guardian reveals existing quotas are set to remain in place as part of the deal to take Britain out of the European Union.

According to the newspaper, MEPs have drafted seven provisions to be included in Britain’s “exit agreement”, including the stipulation that there will be “no increase to the UK’s share of fishing opportunities for jointly fished stocks [maintaining the existing quota distribution in UK and EU waters]”.

Exiting the EU’s controversial Common Fisheries Policy and removing quotas for fishermen was a major policy for the Vote Leave campaign in last year’s referendum, particularly in coastal areas of Kent.

Currently, smaller quotas are dished out to boats under 10 metres long, which primarily makes up the fleet in the county, and because of these restrictions, fishermen have reported a huge decline in industry in fishing towns like Folkestone, Ramsgate and Whitstable.

Responding to the reports today, Mr Mackinlay, Conservative MP for South Thanet, told us: “This appears to be their idea of playing hardball and it’s not good.

“It’s completely unacceptable, and I will be fighting this.”

Remain campaigners warned prior to the referendum that voting for Brexit would be a “leap in the dark” - words used by former chancellors George Osborne and Alistair Darling on a visit to Ashford days before the vote.

“If you’re selling a car, you’re not going to say it’s full of rust,” Mr Mackinlay admitted.

“When you become independent you take the assumption you’re going to win back control - it’s a reasonable expectation in accordance with international law.”

A government spokesperson said: “We recognise the importance of our fishing industry and leaving the EU is a real opportunity to review fisheries management in the UK.

“We will be working hard to secure the best possible deal for all our fishermen, one which ensures fair access to quota, sustainable stocks and a healthy marine environment.”

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