This afternoon I supported the Prime Minister and voted for the European Union (Future Relationship) Bill - The Brexit Deal negotiated by this Government with the EU.
Many parts of this deal can be applauded, and in some cases we have got much better terms than many had predicted, especially for aviation, road haulage and aspects of security and data sharing.
A massive part of this new trade deal, the largest in the World (worth over £660 billion a year), is the no tariff and no quota access that the UK will have to the EU market. This will be a huge relief to local businesses in many parts of our economy from farmers to car manufacturers, the food and drink sector to the new and emerging gig economy.
Moreover, this deal offers cooperation in many spheres including science and academia to security and policing structures.
However, I am bitterly disappointed, as are our local fishermen, with the deal struck on fisheries. After months of discussions with Ministers, representatives from the fisheries industry and our local fishermen I had managed to secure agreement that our fishing waters of 0-12 nautical miles would be for UK vessels only, and indeed this was agreed in our new Fisheries Bill. However, this was an area of compromise for the UK Government in the recent Brexit negotiations. That reassurance for the 0-12 nautical miles is now not applicable to the English Channel or Bristol Channel. This is hugely disappointing.
I am encouraged that in five and half years’ time we take back full control over our fishing waters and we can revisit this and ensure we get our 0-12 miles back for UK vessels only in all parts of the UK. However, in the short term this is not what I or our local fishermen wanted.
Moving forwards, I have joined a group of Coastal MPs who are now working to ensure we keep the pressure on to get a better deal for our fishermen and that we in Hastings and Rye have access to the £100 million to help modernise fishing fleets and state of the art processing units. It is disappointing news on the fisheries deal, but I am confident that in five years’ time we will be in a much better position to chart our own course forwards in this area.
As an MP I have to look at the deal as a whole and not focus in on one particular area, and that is why, albeit the fisheries aspect is bitterly disappointing, I have today supported the deal and voted for the Bill. In so many areas this is a good deal for local residents and businesses. I will continue to fight for our fishermen, but today is a day to support this deal, move forwards and grasp the opportunities that now lie ahead.