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Oh my cod! When will the Brexit fishing gaffes end?

Scottish seafood exporters have been battered by post-Brexit border delays since January 1.

Anger over the delays has been compounded by a series of gaffes from UK ministers this week, with one MP suggesting the answer to export woes was Brits eating more fish.

Below we take a look at the ministerial missteps.

Victoria Prentis

Top of our list is the fisheries minister, who told a House of Lords committee that she had not read the Brexit deal when it was published on Christmas Eve because she was “very busy organising the local Nativity trail”.

Ms Prentis went on to defend the deal against claims of a sell-out, saying some of the Brexit promises had just been “big dreams”.

The minister also caused concern after suggesting one solution to border delays was for Brits to eat more fish.

“We export 70% of what we catch in this country to the EU; we’re ambitious to carry on at that level but we will, I’m sure, also in the future want to eat more of what we catch here.”

George Eustice

Environment Secretary George Eustice.

The Environment Secretary was asked seven times to confirm, as the prime minister had promised, that there would be compensation for Scottish fishermen following two weeks of delays – he failed to confirm such a scheme existed.

Mr Eustice would only say that the government “remains open to considering compensation for sectors that might have been affected through no fault of their own”.

The response did nothing to allay concerns in the industry over losses.

David Duguid

David Duguid.

In an interview with the BBC on Thursday morning, Banff and Buchan Tory MP David Duguid was asked when firms may be able to export as smoothly as they did before Brexit.

He responded: “How long is a piece of string?”.

His comments were pounced upon by the SNP, with the party’s candidate for Banffshire & Buchan Coast, Karen Adam, claiming the responsibility is solely on the Tories.

Dan O’Donoghue: How the ‘sea of opportunity’ became Brexit’s greatest myth

She said: “Despite claiming that there would be a ‘sea of opportunity’ when it came to our fishing and seafood sectors, UK Tory Ministers have now washed their hands of all responsibility, showing sheer complacency about the threat to one of our most successful industries.”

Jacob Rees-Mogg

Leader of the House of Commons Jacob Rees-Mogg.

The Commons Leader, responding to concerns from the SNP’s Tommy Shephard on the “Brexit fishing disaster”, 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.”

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