James O'Brien's message for fisheries minister who was 'too busy' to read Brexit deal

14 January 2021, 14:57

By Fiona Jones

This was James O'Brien's message for fisheries minister Victoria Prentis who was 'too busy' to read the post-Brexit trade deal.

The Prime Minister is standing by fisheries minister Victoria Prentis after she admitted that she did not read the post-Brexit trade deal because she was busy "organising a nativity trail."

There have been calls for the North Oxfordshire MP to resign after she revealed to the Lords EU Environment Sub-Committee that she was too busy on Christmas Eve to read the deal.

UK fisheries has been a major prioritisation in Brexit trade talks and taking ownership of British waters has been cited as a prominent reason to vote Leave amongst Brexiteers.

However Scottish fisherman are experiencing "continuing chaos" as lorry-loads of live seafood and fish destined for outlets in France, Spain and other countries have been rejected because they are taking too long to arrive due to post-Brexit bureaucracy.

James reflected on this, sending a message to Ms Prentis: "I'm all for nativity trails but if you're the fisheries minister and changes to the status quo that are going to wreak havoc upon the industry that you represent are published, I would've think you could have left the baby in the manger."

James advised that instead she should have "focussed on the finer detail on what was going to happen to the industry you are nominally in charge of.

"But hey ho, I'm quite old-fashioned."

Asked by the committee if her jaw had dropped when she saw the deal with the EU on Christmas Eve, Ms Prentis said: “No, the agreement came when we were all very busy on Christmas Eve, in my case organising the local nativity trail.

“We had been waiting and waiting, it looked like it was coming for probably four days before it actually arrived.

“I, for one, had gone through, as I’m sure members of this committee had, a gamut of emotions over those four days.”