Labour and SNP MEPs today ignored the interests of British fishermen and backed an attempt by the European Parliament to keep the UK inside the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) post-Brexit.
The Liberal Democrats, Plaid Cymru and the Greens also supported the threat to exclude British fish from any future trade deal with the EU unless the UK continues to apply the CFP. The proposal is contained in a wider report on fish products entering the EU, which was passed by the Parliament in Strasbourg.
Conservative Fisheries Spokesman Nosheena Mobarik described the parties' decision to vote in favour of the report as "astonishing".
She said: "I cannot understand how any British MEP can endorse what amounts to blackmail by the European Parliament. This report says the UK must either give up the right to exercise control over its fishing grounds or face losing EU markets for its fish.
"If it became policy it would cost jobs amongst our fishermen and in our coastal communities. While Conservative MEPs stood up for Britain's interests, the fisheries sector was betrayed today by Labour, the SNP, Lib Dems, the Greens and Plaid Cymru. This vote will not be forgotten by our fishing communities."
Ministers have pledged the UK will take control of its fishing waters at the end of the implementation period in December 2020. Norway, Iceland and the Faroe Islands all cooperate with the EU on fisheries affairs but are not forced to be part of the CFP
Baroness Mobarik continued: "Conservative MEPs have faith that, free from EU red tape and outdated systems, the UK can become a strong and dynamic maritime nation, as an island should be. It seems that the opposition parties have no such ambitions for our fishing fleet."
The report was politicised during its passage through the Parliament's Fisheries Committee when an amendment was inserted calling on the European Commission, "when drafting a post-Brexit agreement, to make the UK's access to the market for fishery and aquaculture products dependent on EU vessels' access to British waters and on the application of the Common Fisheries Policy."
As a so-called 'own initiative' report it is unlikely to become law but nevertheless sends a strong signal about the Parliament's view.
Conservative MEPs voted against.