Brexit – British fishermen have not escaped the Common Fisheries Policy | Britain

MANY PEOPLE were disappointed by the deal that Britain signed with the European Union on Christmas Eve, but fishermen were infuriated. “It’s the biggest con to be ever put on,” says John Clark, who catches fish and langoustines off the north-east coast of Scotland. “We have been completely betrayed—the prime minister bottled it.”

Leaving the EU’s single market was always going to be hard. Exporting fish now entails wrapping them in bureaucratic paper. And as far as catching fish goes, the deal fishermen have landed is worse than they expected. Ministers had promised them “hundreds of thousands of tonnes” more fish, and implied that Britain would get its own way in its territorial waters. Yet the deal is better than it could have been. And, oddly, it is better than it might have been if the fishermen had actually got what they wanted.

The expectation that they would do better than they did in the EU’s common fisheries policy (CFP) was not unreasonable. The CFP allocated catching rights around Europe in line with how countries were fishing in the mid-1970s. Unfortunately, many of Britain’s biggest fishing boats happened to be far away in those years, trawling the waters around Iceland, which had not yet banned foreign boats from its vicinity. Britain ended up with only a tenth of the quota for cod caught in the English Channel, for example.

The new deal is better, but only just. Over the next five years, EU fishing boats will give up a quarter of their quota rights in British waters. Domestic boats will be able to catch a larger share of mackerel (the single most valuable fish) and hake, although they will still be entitled to only a tenth of cod from the Channel. Fishermen thought they were going to be allocated exclusive rights over waters 12 miles from the coast, but they have got only six miles, the same as before. They will no longer be able to swap quotas with counterparts in other European countries.

What really annoys fishermen is that Britain will remain closely tied to the CFP. It will have to agree catch limits for every fish species with the EU, following guidance from the International Council for the Exploration of the Seas (ICES), an international outfit based in Denmark. If the two sides cannot agree, ICES limits will be enforced. Although these arrangements lapse in 2026, Britain will probably remain bound to Europe for longer: clauses in the deal allow for broad retaliation if fishing talks break down. Barrie Deas, head of the National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisations, calls it “a colonial or neocolonial arrangement”.

Over the long term, though, what really matters is not how the fish around Britain are divided but how many fish there are. Decades of overfishing have denuded the ocean (see chart) and occasionally caused fish populations to collapse. In 2019 landings in Britain of demersal fish such as cod and haddock were only a fifth of the 1970 level. For years the CFP abetted this destruction. British and other European politicians would listen to scientists’ advice about sensible limits, then allow catches well in excess of them.

But the CFP has improved. It now works well in northern European waters—though not in the Mediterranean. Catches are broadly within sustainable limits; discarding fish is banned, in theory. Given the tendency of fish to swim around, it is good for British fishermen in the long run that the deal binds them to the EU and compels everyone to fish sustainably. “People are saying it’s just like the common fisheries policy—we haven’t really left,” says Bryce Stewart, who studies fishing policy at the University of York. “But that is the point.”

In theory, Britain could have become a freewheeling coastal state that heeded scientific advice and co-operated with its neighbours. But in practice it would probably have been a disaster. Iceland, Norway and the Faroe Islands hold sway over their waters, and periodically get into rows with the EU over fish quotas. When talks break down, as they did in 2010 over mackerel and in 2013 over herring, countries revert to setting their own quotas, which generally add up to well above the sustainable level.

As the ocean warms, fish are migrating, making it ever more likely that negotiations will break down. And if Britain had gained full control of its coastal waters it would have been more likely to end up feuding with the EU than Iceland, Norway or the Faroe Islands do, because of the dozens of commercially important fish species that swim the English Channel and the North Sea. Although they resent it, the tighter British fishermen are bound to the EU, the better for them.

This article appeared in the Britain section of the print edition under the headline “Coming up empty”

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Donald Trump snubbed, USPGA, British Open, golf courses

The British Open golf championship will not be staged at the Turnberry course in Scotland owned by outgoing US President Donald Trump for the “foreseeable future”, tournament organisers announced Monday.

The move follows the decision by American golf authorities to strip Trump’s Bedminster course in New Jersey of the right to host the 2022 US PGA Championship.

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Last week Trump supporters attacked the US Capitol building in an incident that left five people dead as they attempted to disrupt Congress from approving the result of November’s US presidential election won by Joe Biden.

A statement issued by the Royal and Ancient, which runs the British Open — the only one of golf’s four majors played outside the US — said taking the championship back to Turnberry would distract from events on the course.

“The R & A had no plans to stage any of our championships at Turnberry and will not do so in the foreseeable future,” said chief executive Martin Slumbers.

“We will not return until we are convinced that the focus will be on the championship, the players and the course itself and we do not believe that is achievable in the current circumstances.”

The British Open switches venues every year with Turnberry one of 10 courses on the current rotation.

However, the championship has not been played at Turnberry since 2009, five years before the Trump Organisation purchased the course and renamed it “Trump Turnberry”.

Before the British Open decision was announced, the PGA also hit Trump’s ego where it hurts.

“The PGA of America Board of Directors voted tonight to exercise the right to terminate the agreement to play the 2022 PGA Championship at Trump Bedminster,” PGA of America President Jim Richerson said in a statement posted on Twitter.

“It has become clear that conducting the PGA Championship at Trump Bedminster would be detrimental to the PGA of America brand and would put at risk the PGA’s ability to deliver our many programs and sustain the longevity of our mission,” Richerson added in a video posted on the organisation’s website.

New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman said Trump was “gutted” by the snub.

“A lot has happened in the last week, including the president losing his Twitter feed, impeachment coming to the fore and the PGA withdrawing from Trump National. He’s ‘gutted’ by the PGA move, a person close to the White House says,” Haberman tweeted.

“He’s angry about impeachment, people who have spoken to him say. But the reaction to the PGA decision was different order of magnitude.”

The announcements follow increased calls in the golf world for leaders of the sport to distance themselves from Trump.

Golfweek, in a scathing column urging the game to sever ties with the president, said the PGA of America had been debating for two years whether to move the organisation’s flagship event but had been nervous about antagonising a “famously vindictive man”.

Trump’s repeated false claims of election fraud, and his incendiary address to protesters prior to the attack on the Capitol have prompted critics to call for his resignation, his impeachment, or his removal from office as unfit under the Constitution’s 25th amendment.

The 74-year-old’s divisive rhetoric had long posed a problem for a game he has been identified with.

Trump is an avid fan and player of golf — making numerous trips to play at Bedminster during his presidency.

Golf greats Gary Player and Annika Sorenstam came in for criticism when they accepted the Presidential Medal of Freedom from Trump last week — a day after the chaos in Washington.

Golf Digest, while noting that 15-time major champion Tiger Woods had also accepted the honour from Trump in May, called it a “tone deaf” gesture in an editorial calling for the sport to distance itself from Trump.

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Chlorinated data – Why Google and Facebook are shifting British data to America | Britain

GOOGLE AND Facebook collect more data about what people are doing on the internet—the web pages they read, the services they use, the links they click—than any other companies. Those data are used to construct profiles of internet users, against which personalised advertisements may be sold. This year, as a consequence of Brexit, the firms are moving legal responsibility for that data from Dublin, where it has sat for the past few years under European law, to California, where both technology firms have their headquarters.

Bits of data themselves will not physically move—datasets are already copied onto servers around the planet in order to ensure reliable service independent from geography. It is legal responsibility for those bits that is moving, some time in 2021. Google and Facebook users in Britain will be informed of the move through one of the regular, tedious sets of terms and conditions which they are asked to accept.

Google’s and Facebook’s move means that British residents will no longer have recourse to European data-protection law. Rather as American food standards are easier on farmers than European ones, which leads to chicken meat being washed in chlorine, so the absence of national privacy or data-protection law in America means that its digital giants can, for instance, deploy face-recognition technology with relative ease. As long as legal authority for a profile remained in Europe, that person, regardless of location, could bring a complaint under European law. Upon acceptance of the new terms, Britons will lose the protections of European law.

In principle that should not matter. British data-protection law is a close copy of Europe’s GDPR, and Britons will still be protected by that regardless of the jurisdiction that administers their data. But practical concerns mean the transfer will make a difference. First, Britain’s Information Commissioner’s Office will face the task of regulating giant companies some 5,000 miles away, which may be a struggle for a body that has not excelled at regulating activity even on British soil. Trying to project British law, should Facebook or Google ever break it, into California will be messy, even for post-Brexit Britain at its most global. Dublin was more convenient.

Second, America’s large tech companies are now free to lobby Westminster for favourable changes to Britain’s data-protection law, something which would have been pointless while their legal responsibilities lay in Dublin under European law. It is plausible, says Michael Veale, a lecturer in digital rights at University College London, that tech giants may seek to make Britain a regulatory beacon to Europe through this lobbying, working with the newly flexible, newly sovereign British government to demonstrate the benefits of a new deal on data protection.

It is also plausible that Britons’ standards of data protection will be downgraded over time through this lobbying, although that would risk triggering a fight with the EU over adequacy, and threaten the flow of data between Britain and the EU. It is more likely that, when it comes to their relationship with American tech giants, Britons will be stuck in a post-Brexit quagmire, with an under-resourced regulator trying to control powerful companies thousands of miles away. The EU, for all its faults, kept the locus of control closer to home.

This article appeared in the Britain section of the print edition under the headline “Chlorinated Facebook”

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Iran Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei bans imports of US and British coronavirus vaccines

Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has banned the Government from importing coronavirus vaccines from the United States and Britain.

“Imports of US and British vaccines into the country are banned. I have told this to officials and I’m saying it publicly now,” the Ayatollah said in a live televised speech.

“If the Americans were able to produce a vaccine, they would not have such a coronavirus fiasco in their own country.”

Iran has been the worst-hit country by the coronavirus in the Middle East.

It launched human trials of its first domestic COVID-19 vaccine candidate late last month, to help defeat the pandemic despite US sanctions that affect its ability to import vaccines.

China and Russia, which are both allies of Iran, are possible sources for vaccines.(AP: Vahid Salemi)

Mr Khamenei praised Iran’s efforts to develop domestic vaccines but said Iran could obtain vaccines “from other reliable places”.

He gave no details but China and Russia are both allies of Iran.

“I’m not optimistic about France either because of their history of infected blood,” he said, referring to the country’s contaminated blood scandal of the 1980s and 1990s.

Khamenei says no rush for resuming 2015 nuclear deal

Mr Khamenei also said Tehran was in no rush for the US to re-join the 2015 nuclear deal, but that sanctions on the Islamic Republic must be lifted immediately.

“We are not insisting nor in a hurry for the US to return to the deal,” he said.

“But what is logical is our demand, is the lifting of the sanctions. These brutal sanctions must be lifted immediately.”

Tensions have grown between Tehran and Washington since 2018, when US President Donald Trump exited the deal between Iran and six world powers — which sought to limit Tehran’s nuclear program and prevent it developing atomic weapons — and reimposed sanctions that have crippled Iran’s economy.

In retaliation, Tehran started gradually violating the accord.

Potentially complicating efforts by US president-elect Joe Biden to re-join the deal, Iran said on Monday, local time, it had resumed 20 per cent uranium enrichment at its Fordow underground nuclear facility.

The UN nuclear watchdog confirmed that Iran had started the process of enriching uranium to 20 per cent purity.

Tehran said it could quickly reverse its breaches if US sanctions were removed.

Mr Biden, who takes office on January 20, has said the US will re-join the deal if Iran resumes strict compliance with the pact.


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British Gas staff start five-day strike over pay and conditions

British Gas engineers will launch a five-day strike from Thursday in a dispute over pay and conditions.

Thousands of staff could walk out in response to an attempt by the firm to push through pay cuts by threatening to fire workers, union GMB has said.

It accused Centrica, which owns British Gas, of provoking the strike, which it said would cause “massive disruption”.

Centrica said it would prioritise vulnerable households and emergencies during the walkout.

In a statement, GMB national secretary Justin Bowden said the actions of British Gas had “tarnished” its reputation.

“The use of fire and rehire threats has been condemned across the political spectrum and caused huge anger among this dedicated workforce,” he said.

He also suggested that the strike would cause “massive disruption to customers in the depths of winter”.

A Centrica spokeswoman said: “We’ve done everything we can with the GMB to avoid industrial action.

“While we’ve made great progress with our other unions, sadly the GMB leadership seems intent on causing disruption to customers during the coldest weekend of the year, amid a global health crisis and in the middle of a national lockdown,” she said.

“We have strong contingency plans in place to ensure we will still be there for customers who really need us.”

Almost 90% of GMB members voted for industrial action in a ballot of 9,000 members last month in response to an attempt by Centrica to cut some salaries by up to 10%, the union said.

In total, more than 7,500 staff could walk out, although Centrica said GMB had committed to ensure emergency callouts were not affected, adding that it also had contractors that it could call upon.

‘Our business needs to change’

In June, Centrica said it planned to to cut around 5,000 jobs to “arrest the decline” of the company.

It has been losing customers to rivals and, in February last year, blamed a big loss in 2019 on the energy price cap and falling gas prices. Centrica has since said the coronavirus crisis has shown how the company could be “agile and responsive”.

Commenting on the strike, Centrica said 83% of workers had already accepted its new terms and conditions, which it said protected base pay and pensions.

“This shows most of our people understand that our business needs to change because customer needs are changing,” the spokeswoman said.

“GMB’s mandate for strike action is weak; they are fighting against modernisation and changes which will help to protect well-paid jobs in the long-term and are doing so at a time that our country needs everyone to pull together.”

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Julian Assange will not be extradited to the United States on espionage charges, British judge rules

Julian Assange cannot be extradited to the United States to face charges of espionage and hacking, a British judge has ruled.

District judge Vanessa Baraitser delivered the ruling at the central criminal court on Monday, saying the extradition would be “oppressive” due to his mental health.

She said the 49-year-old would be a suicide risk in US custody.

“Faced with conditions of near total isolation … I am satisfied that the procedures will not prevent Mr Assange from finding a way to commit suicide,” Judge Baraitser said.

She said if detained in the US, Mr Assange “faces the bleak prospect of severely restrictive detention conditions designed to remove physical contact and reduce social interaction and contact with the outside world to a bare minimum”.

Australian-born Mr Assange faced 18 charges in the US relating to the 2010 release by WikiLeaks of 500,000 secret files detailing aspects of military campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq. 

Mr Assange’s lawyers had argued the entire prosecution was politically-motivated, powered by US President Donald Trump and that his extradition posed a severe threat to the work of journalists.

The US Government has 15 days to appeal against the ruling.

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More of British coronavirus variant detected in Finland

THE BRITISH VARIANT of the new coronavirus has caused additional infections in Finland, reports YLE.

The public broadcasting company reported yesterday that it has obtained information indicating that the number of new infections from the variant is not particularly high – roughly a dozen. The information, it added, has not been confirmed by officials.

Prime Minister Sanna Marin (SDP) on Sunday stated in her monthly interview with the broadcaster that the government has already held preliminary discussions about the new variant and the measures required to stop its spread in Finland.

The restrictions currently in place have been devised based on information on the spread and transmissibility of the older variant. In-person teaching in basic education, for example, has continued on grounds that the coronavirus has not been shown to spread widely in a school environment.

As the new variant may function differently, also a re-examination of the restrictions is warranted.

“We’ll have to devise our strategy in regards to the new threat,” said Marin. “It looks like it’s transmitted more easily and evenly to different age groups than the virus we’ve gotten used to. There are indications, for example, that children and young people could get sick and spread the virus more easily.”

The government is waiting for more detailed information about the variant. “It will have an effect on how schools and daycare could become risk factors,” told Marin.

She confirmed that the government must now consider if stricter restrictions are necessary and explore the legal requirements for introducing them. Finland, she underlined, should seek to smother the disease and stop any infections at the border in order to make sure schools can be open late in the spring.

Chancellor of Justice Tuomas Pöysti on Sunday told YLE that resorting to the emergency powers act remains a possibility, albeit only after all other options have been exhausted.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT

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British and Irish Lions’ South Africa tour in doubt over COVID concerns

London: The British and Irish Lions will discuss this month whether to visit South Africa as planned later in the year because of concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Lions are scheduled to play eight matches in South Africa, including a three-Test series against the world champion Springboks, starting on July 3 in Cape Town.

The Lions are due to play eight matches in South Africa from July 3 after last playing in New Zealand in 2017.Credit:Getty

But the coronavirus, which has seen a new variant emerge from England and South Africa, has cast doubt on the trip.

According to a Reuters tally, South Africa has more than one million COVID-19 cases, the United Kingdom has more than 2.5 million and Ireland has more than 93,000.

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COVID-19: Around 200 British tourists ‘flee Swiss ski resort after being forced into quarantine’ – report | World News

Hundreds of British tourists forced into quarantine at an upmarket ski resort due to fears about the new, more contagious variant of COVID-19 have fled under the cover of darkness, according to a report.

Around 200 out of an estimated 420 affected UK holidaymakers who were in isolation in Verbier, Switzerland, are thought to have left in the night, rather than remain indoors for more than a week and see their plans to hit the slopes massively disrupted.

It follows a ruling from Swiss authorities that anyone who arrived in the country from Britain since 14 December had to stay in quarantine for 10 days.

A COVID ‘angel’ who reminds skiers of the coronavirus safety guidance in Verbier

On 20 December, Switzerland announced an entry ban for all travellers from the UK, and suspended all flights between the UK and Switzerland, after the new coronavirus variant was detected in southeast England.

Then on 23 December, the Swiss government brought in an exemption, allowing flights to and from the UK from Christmas Eve to enable residents of the UK and Switzerland to return for the festive period.

Two cases of the new variant have been detected in Switzerland and one in neighbouring Liechtenstein, the Swiss health ministry said on Sunday.

It added that two COVID-19 cases of the new South African-linked variant have also been discovered. Both variants are believed to be far more transmissible than the original.

Following the quarantine move by Swiss officials, some of the affected British tourists in Verbier left immediately, while others stuck it out for a short time before quitting, according to a local newspaper.

“Many of them stayed in quarantine for a day before they set off unnoticed under the cover of darkness,” Jean-Marc Sandoz, a spokesman for the wider Bagnes municipality, told the SonntagsZeitung.

He called the whole situation “the worst week our community has ever experienced”.

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How contagious is the new variant?

Speaking about the hotel staff, Mr Sandoz told the ATS news agency: “It was when they saw the meal trays remained untouched that the hoteliers noticed that the customers had gone.”

He said that according to a survey on Saturday of the resort’s hotels, fewer than 10 people would still be in quarantine and the rest would either have left or their isolation time would have ended.

“We can’t blame them. In most cases, quarantine was untenable. Imagine four people staying in a hotel room of 20 square metres,” Mr Sandoz added.

He said the tourists had left feeling “a little angry with Switzerland” and with the sense of having been “trapped”.

British tourists usually make up about 20% of Verbier’s visitors, with many starting to arrive after Christmas.

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