Brexit LIVE: Scottish Tory chief claims fishermen ‘NOT READY’ to seize more quotas

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Douglas Ross said work needed to be done to equip the fishing sector for the post-Brexit reality of ridding itself of the EU’s Common Fisheries Policy (CFP). He claimed the industry lacked the “capacity” to make use of its newfound freedom, which is set to be handed to it in less than three months.

His remarks come after it emerged the Government had tabled a proposal for a three-year transition period for fisheries, in a bid to break the deadlock blighting trade talks with the bloc.

The arrangement would see the catches of European trawlers in UK waters gradually reduced before a new quota system is ushered in.

Mr Ross warned fishermen in Scotland and across the rest of the UK are not ready to take full advantage of the opportunities they have spent years waiting for.

He told The Telegraph: “While I understand what the industry want to see and want to get to immediately, we’ve also got to ensure we have the capacity, both in the catching sector and in the processing sector to deal with the benefits we will get for our fishermen and fishing communities as we leave the Common Fisheries Policy.

“I think a lot of people would accept right now, we’re not at the stage where we have the capacity to deliver on that here in Scotland or across the UK, and we’ve got to work towards that.”

If negotiators in Brussels agree to the three-year transition period, ministers will need to make a strong case to sell it fishermen.

Mr Ross’s controversial comments will likely damage their efforts.

Fishing bosses have long warned they will hold Boris Johnson accountable for his actions after he pledged to protect fishing rights in any free trade deal.

On Saturday the Prime Minister held a call with EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen to “take stock” of the talks, following last week’s ninth round.

Following their conversation on Saturday, the pair have tasked their chief negotiators with working “intensively” to resolve the remaining differences in the post-Brexit trade talks.

Fishing rights, state aid and governance continue to be vexed issues between the two sides as they look to ratify a new trading relationship before the transition period ends on December 31.

UK negotiator Lord Frost tweeted following the leader’s statement to confirm that discussions with his EU counterpart Michel Barnier would “begin as soon as we can next week”.

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