AN Oxfordshire MP has revealed she could not read the UK-EU agreement on fishing as it came in, her Government responsibility, because she was ‘busy organising a nativity trail’.

Victoria Prentis, the MP for Banbury, is also a Government minister for fisheries and farming.

She told the House of Lord’s EU Environment Sub-Committee today (January 13) that the post-Brexit deal had been beneficial for fishing, after being asked if her ‘jaw had dropped’ when it was published on December 24.

But Ms Prentis said she did not have time to read it at the time it was finally agreed.

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She said: “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 arrived.

“I for one, as I am sure many of this committee had, went through a gamut of emotions for days as many of us truthfully for the last four years.”

The Brexit trade deal gives UK fisherman the right to a larger number of fish within the country’s waters than was previously allowed under the EU.

But Ms Prentis acknowledged there were areas of the fishing industry which had been ‘hard-done by’ in the deal.

She added: “I think the deal is a good one for the UK, in fisheries terms, it’s true to say that we had, as an industry, dreamed some pretty big dreams and in some cases it’s true to say that we didn’t get everything we asked for.”

Orkney and Shetland MP Alistair Carmichael, whose constituency has a large fishing industry, told the Aberdeen Evening Express he was concerned by Ms Prentis’ response.

He said: “It is clear that the fisheries minister was not brought into discussions on the deal until after the event.

“Even so, at that point, getting to grips with it ought to have been her priority – surely she could have taken a little time away from the festivities to look after her own departmental responsibilities?”

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The SNP’s Westminster leader Ian Blackford pressed Boris Johnson for more support for the fishing industry at Prime Minister’s Questions today.

He shared the ‘bureaucracy and delays’ faced by one of his constituents who is produces and exports shellfish.

Fishermen’s organisations have criticised the deal’s impact on their industry after it agreed.

In December, Barrie Deas, the chief executive of the National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisation, accused the prime minister of having “bottled it” on fishing quotas.

At the Lords’ committee today, Ms Prentis said there was an opportunity to hold annual negotiations over fishing quotas with EU states to help UK fishermen who felt hard done by.

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