Fisheries minister didn't read Brexit deal 'because it was Christmas Eve'

Victoria Prentis speaks to the House of Lords sub-committee

Victoria Prentis speaks to the House of Lords sub-committee - Credit: Parliament Live

A fisheries minister has admitted not reading the post-Brexit trade deal with Brussels when it was agreed because she was busy organising a Nativity trail.

Victoria Prentis faced calls for her to quit after the comments, but the prime minister is standing by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) minister.

Asked if her jaw had dropped when she saw the deal with the EU on Christmas Eve, Prentis told the Lords EU Environment Sub-Committee: “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.”

Number 10 said that the prime minister had confidence in Prentis.

But the SNP took a dim view of her behaviour and insisted that Prentis should stand down, after anger over Brexit 'red tape' and delays facing the fishing industry in Scotland.

Ian Blackford told the Commons that one fisherman was losing £40,000 a day since the new trading rules with the EU came into force.

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The SNP’s Brexit spokesperson Philippa Whitford, said: “Due to Brexit-induced bureaucracy, Scotland’s fishing communities are already experiencing severe disruption and cannot get their produce to their customers in the EU market on time.

“For the Tory government’s fisheries minister to then admit that she did not even bother to read the details of the damaging deal because she was too busy is unbelievable and makes her position untenable.”

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