Post-Brexit trade talks between the UK and EU remain on a knife-edge with access to British fisheries proving the main stumbling block to a deal ahead of the looming December 31 deadline. Britain will leave the EU’s Common Fisheries Policy and wants to adopt a system of annual negotiations of quotas, rather than a fixed number of catches. The Prime Minister has vowed to take back control of the UK’s 200 nautical mile coastline and it is thought this would involve cutting EU access by up to 60 percent over a three-year period.
But, with just days to go in negotiations, reports suggest the UK has caved in on this and has offered to reduce the amount of fish EU fishermen can catch by around a third over the next five years.
The prospect of handing large swathes of fish back to EU vessels has been condemned by UK fishing group Fishing for Leave who branded the proposal “abysmal”.
Fishing for Leave also claimed if EU fishermen were denied access to UK waters after the five year period of adjustment then tariffs would be imposed on all goods.
In a statement, Fishing for Leave said: “After five years of waiting to get back just a third of our fish, if we do try to get to where we should be, the EU has a huge lever to whip us to where it wants with the threat of all goods tariffs or rescind the deal.”
They added: “Essentially we now have a fishing backstop. Nominal independence but no ability to use it because of a bigger issue. Sewn up, stitch up.”
Britain officially left the EU in January under the Brexit withdrawal agreement and the UK fishing group has blamed the deal – struck in large by former Prime Minister Theresa May – for the current situation.
They argue the treaty should be abandoned and insist the EU has no right to demand a single piece of fish from UK waters.
Fishing for Leave added: “No other nation barters raw resources for trade – the Tories should be ashamed they acceded to May’s dire deal that’s led to this – particularly when they’ve a majority to rip it up.
“We are under no obligation to give the EU one tail – yet somehow the narrative of getting a third of our rightful possessions back from our neighbours is ok. It’s pathetic.”
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8.30am update: ‘Time to tell them to get stuffed!’ Boris’s Macron fury may sink Brexit deal with EU
Boris Johnson is furious at Emmanuel Macron for barring British lorries from crossing the Channel into France, and his anger has the potential to sink a post-Brexit trade deal completely, a UK insider has warned.
The decision to close the border in response to the emergence of a new, more contagious strain of coronavirus has dramatically increased tensions between London and Paris.
A deal to reopen the border was thrashed out last night, but lorry drivers will still need to show a recent COVID-19 test in order to travel to the continent, and disruption is ongoing.
8.15am update: Jenrick urges the EU to ‘respect’ the UK in Brexit talks as ‘serious’ differences remain
Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick has said the UK cannot sign up to a Brexit deal which does not “respect” the UK as a sovereign independent nation.
Mr Jenrick said there remains “serious” differences between the UK and EU over fisheries and the so-called level playing field on completion.
Speaking to Sky News, he said: “There is still the same serious areas of disagreement, whether that is on fisheries or the level playing field.
“We are working through those issues, our negotiators will keep going – the Prime Minister has been very clear that he is going to negotiate until the very end which is December 31 because that is the right thing, it is what the British public would expect.
“But at the moment there isn’t sufficient progress, it isn’t a deal that the Prime Minister feels he can sign us up to because it doesn’t yet respect us, in full, as a sovereign, independent nation.