Jacob Rees-Mogg has claimed that fish captured after Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal came into effect are “happier” because they are “British”.
The Commons Leader, responding to concerns from the SNP, told MPs: “What is happening is that the Government is tackling this issue, dealing with it as quickly as possible, and the key thing is we’ve got our fish back.
“They’re now British fish and they’re better and happier fish for it.”
Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle intervened and noted: “Obviously there’s no overwhelming evidence for that.”
SNP Commons leader Tommy Sheppard earlier labelled it the “Brexit fishing disaster” and asked for a debate on compensation for the Scottish fishing industry.
He said: “Boats confined to harbour, lorry loads of seafood destroyed, the industry losing £1 million a day as firms go bust – all as a result of Brexit red tape imposed by this Government.
“Yet when asked about this yesterday, the Prime Minister refused to answer.”
Meanwhile the leader of the Scottish Conservatives has insisted that fishermen must be compensated for seafood export delays.
Douglas Ross said financial compensation is “clearly needed by our fishermen right across the country” as the environment secretary promised the Government is “working hard to address these problems” surrounding the export of Scottish seafood to the EU.
His comments came after Prime Minister Boris Johnson told a committee of MPs that fishing businesses would be compensated for what he described as “temporary frustrations” on Wednesday.
During an urgent question on the matter in the Commons on Thursday, MPs from all parties voiced their concerns about exports of Scottish seafood from smaller companies being halted for a further five days by transport company DFDS.
DFDS stopped exports last week after delays in getting new paperwork introduced following the expiry of the Brexit transition period for EU border posts in France.
Paperwork has to be approved before consignments can be sent to DFDS’s warehouse in South Lanarkshire and then on to English Channel ports
Mr Ross shared the story of a local skipper whose catch is currently worth “half of what he needs to cover his costs”, adding: “So can the secretary of state outline the discussions that he’s having with the Scottish Government regarding the problems at Larkhall and with the compensation scheme that is clearly needed by our fishermen right across the country?”
Mr Eustice replied: “I am having a discussion with DFDS (a Danish shipping and logistics company) later today to see if we can offer help.
“They are working through quite a difficult situation, working hard to address these problems, as are Food Standards Scotland.”