It’s simply a smokescreen: Jacob Rees-Mogg knows nothing of the fishing industry and probably wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between a mackerel and a fish finger. He doesn’t live in a coastal constituency and neither does John Redwood who is similarly energised.
But what Jacob and John have in common is that they are both involved to greater or lesser extents in the financial services industry; Jacob is a partner in something called Somerset Capital Management which holds nine-figure assets mainly in developing markets, including a significant stake in a bank with some fairly dodgy Kremlin connections (Sberbank) which, on paper, is a problem from a sanctions point of view.
What Jacob and many on his side of the fence are really concerned about is the EU’s anti tax avoidance and anti money laundering initiatives, which are designed to prevent the likes of Jacob from hiding their money offshore, or sheltering assets behind layers of obfuscation. Jacob also doesn’t like the UK being part of a rules-based community that seeks to mitigate exploitation and chaos, because exploitation and chaos is how people like Jacob make money.
However, coming out in public and saying “I’d really like the UK to exit the EU before their anti tax avoidance directive comes into force on 1st January 2019 because I’m a sociopathic carpet-bagging weasel who hides part of my money offshore” isn’t a popular message in the UK, so he and his fellow travellers – some of whom are personally involved, some of whom have friends who are benefitting from the UK’s somewhat lax approach to tax avoidance – had to come up with another strategy to collapse the deal that creates a transition period after 29/03/19.
And that method is FISH!
Nothing gets the UK nativists and rank-and-file Brextremists going more than the subject of Britannia ruling the waves. They probably have The Pirates of Penzance and HMS Pinafore on loop on their iPods and many probably have a tall tale they repeat down the pub of how their grandfather was part of the Dunkirk evacuation.
And so our little piscine friends have become the location of the war over whether Theresa May gets her transition deal (without which the UK will fall over a cliff as it has none of the infrastructure prepared to deal with what would be the hardest of hard Brexits, in much the same way as the Balkans turned into the location that threw Europe into a world war 104 years ago and nearly created a regional conflict as Yugoslavia fell apart.
Get the UK out on 30/03/19 and – as likely as not – Jacob, Aaron, Andrea (look up her brother or brother-in-law; I forget which) and the rest of the boys in the band probably won’t have to explain where their money is, or who really owns the things that they say own or vice-versa. Stay in and a whole rat’s nest of hidden money and assets might come to light.
After you’ve finished making that list: Join the dots between Arron Banks, Andy Wigmore (both of Leave EU) and Michael “Lord” Ashcroft (who has numerous fingers in pro-Brexit politics). The answer to that question, by the way, involves Belize, which is a known hotspot for money laundering, as well as being a tax haven which asks few realistic questions about the sources of funds coming into the country. That’s not me talking. That’s the FBI.
Here’s a suggestion: Do some research. Find a list of all the backers of Vote Leave, Leave EU, Leave Means Leave, et al. Take a note of all the people involved in the (let’s say) shadier Arthur Daley end of the “financial services” industry.
Then ask yourself what motivation many of them would have to really care about an industry that provides 0.048% of UK GDP and 0.03% of UK jobs, when they never cared about steel, coal or textiles.
A little cynical? Or just applying Occam’s Razor to the observable facts?