Brexiteer economist urged to 'check his facts' following rant about EU fisheries policy

Liam Halligan on Question Time

Liam Halligan on BBC 1's Question Time - Credit: Twitter

A Brexiteer economist who said Britain's fishing industry had been "decimated" by the EU has been urged to review his facts.

Liam Halligan, an economist and Sunday Telegraph writer, claimed Britain had a "colonial relationship" with the EU over fishing rights.

Appearing on BBC 1's Question Time, Halligan said: "Two-thirds of fish in British waters are caught by non-British boats. 90pc of Cod caught in the English Channel is caught by French boats.

"That can't be right. This is a colonial relationship where some independent countries have a hold over resources of another now sovereign, independent country.

"And the reason fishing is such a small part of our economy is because it's been decimated."

Presenter Fiona Bruce chimed in: "Over 50pc of the English fishing quota has been sold to foreign companies."

Halligan claimed this was due to the industry lacking an "economic foothold" and years of British waters being "overfished".

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"If we had a British fishing policy," he added, "we could allow stocks to replenish in our British waters."

The columnist then turned his ire towards the UK press, accusing them of presenting the country's position as being "unreasonable" and Brussels as being "sanguine and sophisticated".

Bruce shot back: "But, you're part of that media."

Halligan shrugged off it by saying he was now a "freelance journalist".

Fishing rights is one of several issues plaguing Brexit negotiators and could threaten the prospect of a trade deal between Britain and the EU.

MORE: Why Brexit all comes down to fish

Responding on Twitter, one user said: "Absolute rubbish... About [time] he learnt where all the cod are caught!!! The UK consumes about 115,000 tonnes of cod each year. Only 15,000 tonnes comes from the North Sea, with the rest imported mainly from the fertile grounds in the Barents Sea and around Norway and Iceland."

Another added: "That and the fact we're an advanced economy where we can do other things than fish for a living."

Scientists for EU head Mike Galsworthy posted: "His answer to why the UK govt sold half its fishing quota to foreign vessels makes no sense at all. Just reallocate."

Angus B MacNeil MP posted: "Not a time to remind the Brexiteers that at one time Iceland had 25% of its population working in fishing and related industries now it is 4.1%."

Simon Cooke wrote: "You'd think an actual economist would...I dunno...get that fishing is a small part of our economy because, for all that food is ace and important, it's less than 10% of what we spend and fish is a tiny part of that 10%."

University College Dublin politics professor Aidan Regan wrote: "The reason why fishing is not central to the UK economy is because the British state has built their entire growth-model around global finance and the City of London. If you want someone to blame Liam, look to the footloose rich rentiers in London."

Another shared: "British people calling anyone else colonial is an instant disqualification."

Others supported Halligan. One user wrote: "No, we won’t stop banging on about our fishing communities - they have been discriminated against and used as the sacrificial lamb for decades."

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