Fish are very patriotic, apparently (Picture: Parliament TV/Getty)
Brexit might be causing ‘disastrous’ hold-ups in the seafood industry, but the important thing is that fish are now ‘better and happier’.
That’s according to government minister Jacob Rees-Mogg, who made the claim in the House of Commons today.
The Conservative MP said that leaving the EU had been a boon for fish, who have no doubt been poring over the prime minister’s trade deal feeling pleased that they are slightly more likely to be end up in a British chippy.
Mr Rees-Mogg said: ‘What is happening is 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.’
Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle intervened and noted: ‘Obviously there’s no overwhelming evidence for that.’
Fishing boats tied up at Tarbert Harbor in Scotland today (Picture: Getty)
SNP Commons leader Tommy Sheppard had earlier said we faced a ‘Brexit fishing disaster’ and asked for a debate on compensation for the Scottish fishing industry.
He said: ‘Boats confined to harbour, lorry loads 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.
‘Yet when asked about this yesterday, the Prime Minister refused to answer.’
In words that may have been more reassuring than Mr Rees-Mogg’s response, the prime minister’s official spokesman said: ‘We have said that we are looking to compensate the fishing industry given they face temporary issues, and we accept that this may have been through no fault of their own.’
Mr Rees-Mogg’s comments come after fisheries minister Victoria Prentis seemed to say she hadn’t read the full trade deal when it was agreed as she was tied up elsewhere.
When asked if her jaw had dropped when she was the deal, she said: ‘No, the agreement came when we were all very busy on Christmas Eve, in my case organising the local Nativity trail.’
Environment secretary George Eustice later claimed she had read it, and only meant to say her jaw did not drop as she knew what the text would contain.
Mr Rees-Mogg’s comments quickly got attention online, with some saying that they summed up Brexit.
One man said: ‘It is not a laughing matter when people are suffering.’
Another said that every box of unsold fish should be dumped on his front garden.
Another claimed: ‘Mogg is in touch with British fish. Perhaps he should try contacting British people although he does seem to have great difficult in understanding human beings.’
Meanwhile, European studies lecturer Alexander Clarkson said: ‘A recurring trait of (the) Brexit debate is the use of banter to make light of issues with disastrous consequences in order to deflect anger over them. Weaponisation of unseriousness.’
Nathalie Loiseau, France’s former Europe minister, tweeted on Thursday afternoon: ‘An MP who says the fish are happier because they are now British, a fisheries minister who admits she hasn’t read the agreement with the EU in her field: happily in Europe, we at least took fishermen seriously.’
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