The clear majority of Tory members favour British control of fisheries policy and the end of Brussels’ Common Fishing Policy. That majority will have choked on their cornflakes this morning as they read, in The Telegraph, that Mr Cameron "had abandoned the policy of "unilateral withdrawal" championed by Michael Howard at the last election in favour of pushing for reform of the fisheries regime from within."
ConservativeHome has learnt that the policy will not now be abandoned. The policy commitment was the culmination of sustained work by former fisheries frontbencher Owen Paterson MP and leading members of the Scottish party – including David McLetchie, Ted Brocklebank and Peter Duncan. They persuaded Michael Howard that the policy was vital for Scotland and for the Scottish Tories. One-half to three-quarters of the UK’s fishing industry operates north of the border. After Michael Howard made the commitment the SNP said that the Tories – who under Ted Heath took Britain into the CFP – would never deliver it. Scottish Conservatives were more shocked than most, therefore, to read The Telegraph’s story.
ConservativeHome understands that there has been a great deal of telephone traffic between London and Edinburgh during the day and this will soon result in a "clarification" of policy.
The lessons over the EPP muddle have clearly not been learnt.