Boris Johnson sent a fishing ultimatum on his Brexit deal to restore control to the UK | Politics | New
Former Brexit MEP Mr Habib is a fierce critic of the PM who recently suggested he should step down for failing to keep his promise to make Brexit a success. Assessing the latest incident, which saw Mr Johnson send Royal Navy ships to the Channel Islands in response to threats from French fishing boats to blockade the port, Mr Habib said the decision was necessary.
But he suggested the confrontation was entirely preventable – and said that in the end Mr Johnson looked more like Neville Chamberlain than his hero Winston Churchill.
He told Express.co.uk: “It should never have come to this.
“All of our territorial waters should be under our control, as the Prime Minister has repeatedly said.
He explained, “A lot of our side of the channel don’t fish.
“They take a look at its contribution to GDP and dismiss it as irrelevant. They are so wrong.
“It’s not a question of GDP. It is about controlling the supply of this phenomenal renewable resource and the livelihoods of the people who depend on its exploitation. “
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“And that is why they have threatened to put Jersey into a blackout and even block it if the island does not issue enough fishing licenses.”
Referring to the remarks of Ian Gorst, the member of the Jersey government responsible for handling the situation, Mr Habib said: “The Jersey Minister of External Affairs has called the threat disproportionate.
“At first glance, he seems to be right, but he doesn’t appreciate, like so many others, the importance of fish. And in this context, he is wrong.
“The shame of the situation is that our own government has sold the industry in the trash.
“After all his false promises, the Prime Minister gave in to pressure from the EU.
“To stand firm, it took a fraction of the Churchillian resolution (only a fraction).
“For having yielded, as he did, breaking his word, he allied himself in history with Chamberlain.
Fishing – and in particular access to UK waters by EU boats – has been a key issue in the Brexit debate.
Under the trade deal Boris Johnson struck in December, the EU was allowed to retain 75% of the value of the fish it now catches in UK waters, with 25% being returned to UK fishermen during the period of transition.
By 2026, Britain will be able to reduce quotas or exclude boats in an area of 6 to 12 nautical miles – but in practice such a move is unlikely, as it would almost certainly trigger retaliatory measures from Brussels that would impact other sectors of the UK economy.