House of Commons leader Jacob Rees-Mogg has claimed that fish caught after 31 December are “happier” because they are now “British”.
Answering questions in Parliament on Thursday over compensation for fishing export delays, Rees-Mogg told MPs that the government is "tackling this issue, dealing with it as quickly as possible, and the key thing is we’ve got our fish back".
“They’re now British fish and they’re better and happier fish for it," he added.
After being met with a pretty flat response in the Commons, Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle interjected that there’s "no overwhelming evidence" for the claim.
— Toby Earle (@TobyonTV) January 14, 2021
The Tory frontbencher was responding to a concern raised by SNP Commons leader and MP for Edinburgh East, Tommy Sheppard - who earlier requested a debate on compensation for the Scottish fishing industry - over the “Brexit fishing disaster” .
“Boats confined to harbour, lorryloads of seafood destroyed, the industry losing £1 million a day as firms go bust – all as a result of Brexit red tape imposed by this Government", he said.
“Yet when asked about this yesterday, the Prime Minister refused to answer," Sheppard said.
This echoed demands by the Scottish Conservatives that fishermen receive compensation for the export delay in seafood products to the European Union after the Brexit date.
Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross said financial compensation is “clearly needed by our fishermen right across the country” as the Environment Secretary, George Eustice, said that Westminster is “working hard to address these problems”.
— Douglas Ross MP (@Douglas4Moray) January 14, 2021
Amid an urgent question on the crisis, MPs from all parties raised their misgivings over exports of Scottish seafood from smaller companies being delayed an extra five days.
On Wednesday Prime Minister Boris Johnson told MPs that fishing firms would be compensated for what he called “temporary frustrations”.
The company responsible for the transit - DFDS - halted exports last week because of delays in new paperwork that was needed, having been brought in after the Brexit transition period ended.
Before consignments can be sent to DFDS’s warehouse in South Lanarkshire and then moved to English Channel ports through France, all paperwork has to be approved.
Although the United Kingdom formally left the European Union in February 2020, London remained subject to the bloc's rules and regulations under the Single Market and Customs Union. The end of the transition period in December saw that arrangement replaced with Boris Johnson's new trade deal, under which the UK is given an increased fishing quota in its territorial waters.