Fisheries minister Victoria Prentis has confessed to not reading the post-Brexit trade deal with Brussels when it was agreed because she was too busy organising the local nativity trail.
Appearing in front of the Lords EU environment subcommittee as the UK fishing industry is plunged into disarray Prentis admitted to letting festive cheer get in the way of her scrutinising the deal on Christmas Eve.
Asked if her jaw had dropped when she saw the deal with the EU she 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.”
Scottish seafood left to rot
The comments came as significant amounts of Scottish seafood was left to rot as exports were tangled in Brexit bureaucracy.
Industry groups have warned that a “perfect storm” of factors has led to long delays before lorries carrying fresh seafood can leave Scotland – partly down to the paperwork now required to send goods to Europe.
Under post-Brexit rules, vets must sign off on consignments and provide an export health certificate – which is needed for wild fish and farmed salmon since Britain left the EU customs union last week.
The Scottish Seafood Association said exports to the EU are being hindered by “red tape” delays in Scotland and France.
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.”