Yet there was already emergence that the Brexit deal that Mr Johnson negotiated with the EU had sold the UK’s fishing industry down the political river before the breakdown of talks between Britain and Norway on Thursday.
The consequence is an even more uncertain future for the Kirkella, a £52m fishing vessel based on the Humber and which is returning to these shores after being no longer permitted to catch cod in the Norwegian sub-Arctic waters.
It remains unclear what will happen to the 100 people whose livelihoods depend on this ship being able to sail – what is clear, however, is that fish and chip shops will be reliant on imported cod when serving Britain’s national dish.
No wonder UK Fisheries CEO Jane Sandell feels so angry on behalf of all those associated with the Kirkella – they and many others, she points out, were promised a “sea of opportunity, not the scuppering of an entire industry”.
As such, the onus is on Mr Johnson – and George Eustice, his Brexit-backing Environment Secretary – to visit Hull, as Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has done, and offer the fishing industry an apology and an explanation. They must not hide behind Defra’s view that “Norway is a key partner and we will continue to work with them over the course of the year”. By then, it could be too late for the Kirkella and other vessels left all at sea by this failure to plan for Brexit.
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