Blog: David Cameron’s Brexit failure as PM ‘should have pushed for fishing’ in EU catastrophe – Express

David Cameron says Brexit referendum ‘thought through’

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Mr Cameron should have placed more importance on the rights of fishermen when he met with EU leaders before the Brexit vote, Express.co.uk was told. The former Conservative Party leader travelled to Brussels as part of his campaign to remain in the EU, hoping to return with concessions. He took a lengthy list of demands including on the border and migration – both hot topics during the Brexit debate.

Mr Cameron at the time faced mounting criticism over the EU’s grip over UK fishing and waters.

Boris Johnson, who was then Mayor of London and campaigning for the Leave campaign, demanded that British fishermen be freed from “crazy” EU rules.

Mr Cameron countered and said the UK’s fishing industry’s value had in fact increased since 2011.

While true, people like Barrie Deas believe Mr Cameron had already failed fishing regardless of any growth.

David Cameron: The former PM should have pushed fishing further up his list of EU demands

David Cameron: The former PM should have pushed fishing further up his list of EU demands (Image: PA)

EU: Cameron travelled to Brussels ahead of the Brexit vote to squeeze concessions out of the EU

EU: Cameron travelled to Brussels ahead of the Brexit vote to squeeze concessions out of the EU (Image: PA)

The Chief Executive of the National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisations (NFFO) told Express.co.uk: “Fishing wasn’t a factor in his 2016 attempts to renew the deal.

“There was stuff on immigration and borders, but I don’t think fishing was on his shopping list.

“But we would have argued it should have been.”

However, Mr Deas said he and many others in the industry were “realists” and did not expect Mr Cameron to place fishing high on his priority list.

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Boris Johnson: The then London mayor out leafleting on behalf of the Vote Leave campaign, 2016

Boris Johnson: The then London mayor out leafleting on behalf of the Vote Leave campaign, 2016 (Image: PA)

He added: “You’ve seen now how hardball the EU plays on fishing.

“So I think we could see it would be wasted breath if Cameron went to Brussels and said, ‘Oh, and by the way, we also want a complete revision of the Common Fisheries Policy.’

“He wouldn’t have been entertained – the EU get too much from it.”

Mr Cameron succeeded in getting the EU to agree to out-of-work EU migrant benefits, but was flatly denied many of his requests.

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UK fishing: Many in fishing feel that Cameron, along with others, failed the industry

UK fishing: Many in fishing feel that Cameron, along with others, failed the industry (Image: PA)

Brexit: Cameron pictured during a visit to Brussels in the aftermath of Brexit

Brexit: Cameron pictured during a visit to Brussels in the aftermath of Brexit (Image: PA)

The EU overpowered him on areas like migrant tax credits, under heavy pressure from Poland and other central European countries, also failing in his original demand to ban migrant workers from sending child benefit money back home.

Mr Cameron also ran into firm resistance on things like economic governance and competition, especially from France.

Many have since suggested the EU might regret its decision to squeeze the UK so close to the Brexit vote.

Brexit timeline: The UK officially exited the EU at the end of January 2020

Brexit timeline: The UK officially exited the EU at the end of January 2020 (Image: Express Newspapers)

Robert Tombs, the renowned British historian, told Express.co.uk that the EU had been short-sighted in its reluctance to ease its grip on a renewed deal, and had thus effectively bolstered the Leave campaign.

He said: “When Cameron tried to negotiate a deal which would give us some sort of guarantees of our future, he didn’t get one.

“You might say if there had been some European politicians who were very forward looking they would have said, ‘We must keep the UK in’.

Emmanuel Macron: The French President pushed the UK on fishing rights in the waning days of 2020

Emmanuel Macron: The French President pushed the UK on fishing rights in the waning days of 2020 (Image: GETTY)

“But the fact is they didn’t seem all that bothered. So they’ve lost quite a lot.”

Mr Deas was also of the opinion that figures in the EU probably now wish they had given Britain more leeway.

He said: “The EU’s a big entity, so there’s probably a spectrum of opinion there.

“Fishing became a toxic issue between the EU and the UK, and I’m pretty certain there would be some in Europe that said, ‘Well, if this is going to poison the relationship between the EU and the UK, surely we better have a look at what they’re saying.'”

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