Conservatives win UK majority, accelerating likelihood of Brexit

Published on
December 13, 2019

Conservatives have won a clear majority in the United Kingdom's general election that took place 12 December, according to the BBC.

That majority means the chances Brexit moves forward some time in 2020 have increased, as current Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the results have shown the U.K. government “has been given a powerful new mandate, to get Brexit done.” Johnson pledged to take the U.K. out of the European Union by 31 January, 2020, during his campaign.

Seafood importers and exporters in the U.K. have been keeping a close eye on Brexit negotiations, which will determine how a U.K. separate from the E.U. will be able to transport seafood across the changed border, in addition to the complex negotiations over the U.K.’s territorial waters, which both E.U. and Irish fishermen have access to.

If Johnson can manage to move forward with Brexit, it will be the culmination of multiple years of attempts by the U.K. The uncertainty that Brexit had been causing had been worrying the seafood sector in the region, with representatives from regions of the U.K. and the E.U. negotiating to make sure trade routes are as seamless as possible and that fishermen will have access to the waters they've been fishing for years in order avoid potential turmoil.

The Conservative victory appeared to remove some uncertainty, with the British pound sterling gaining 1.7 percent, reaching its highest level since May 2018 and reaching a three-and-a-half year high against the euro, according to the BBC. The BBC also reported that the stock market is experiencing a significant positive jump post-election.

However, the full details of what Brexit will mean for trade between the U.K. and the E.U. and for the seafood sector remains to be seen. The U.K. currently still has no solidified agreement, and if the country decides to withdraw without a firm agreement, a “no deal” scenario, the exact impacts are relatively hard to predict.

The European Fisheries Alliance has stressed that fishermen in the E.U. who fish in U.K. waters should keep all eventualities in mind as recently as September. Seán O’Donoghue, chief executive of Ireland’s Killybegs Fishermen’s Organization, has cautioned that without a deal related to territorial water in the U.K. that would deny Irish and E.U. fishermen access, there could be “flashpoints” across the seas similar to the cod wars of the 1940's, 1950's, and 1960's.

Photo courtesy of Michael Tubi/Shutterstock

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