Britain had offered lower its demands for future fishing quotas if Brussels agrees to back down in other areas of the agreement. The proposal would have seem British fishermen reclaim 30-35 per cent of the value of fish, worth around £590 million, that European boats now catch in our waters. The offer was said to have been discussed during a secret telephone call between Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Ursula von der Leyen on Monday.
The EU was said to be unhappy with the UK’s offer of a five-year transition period to phase in the post-Brexit arrangements for fishing.
Brussels is pushing for much longer, with its current demand at a seven years.
The length of the clause is understood to be key in convincing French President Emmanuel Macron to back any compromise on fishing.
UK and EU officials refused to comment on the exact details of the discussion, but didn’t deny the secret phone call had happened.
It has since emerged the two leaders have held a second phone call in an attempt to break the deadlock.
They’ve agreed to stay in “constant contact”, according to an EU source.
Much of Mr Johnson and Mrs von der Leyen’s wrangling is understood to be centred around the bloc’s ability to hit Britain with punative tariffs if our fishing waters are closed to European boats in the future.
The EU is demanding a review clause that could suspend free trade altogether, slapping Britain with tariffs costing hundreds of billions.
Eurocrats want this to be a unilateral decision taken if they feel future negotiations over fishing opportunities end in an unsatisfactory outcome for the bloc.