Brexit: Expert on why fisheries is 'blocking progress' in talks
Boris Johnson raged at the EU’s demand for the power to “retaliate against Britain” if the UK cuts EU fishing quotas in British waters next year. The Prime Minister told European Commision chief Ursula von der Leyen that “the EU’s position in this area was simply not reasonable”. The EU is demanding “the right to retaliate against Britain in another sector” if Brussels “does not like the way” Britain divides up fishing quotas, according to Channel 4’s Political Editor Gary Gibbon.
Mr Gibbon told Channel 4 News: “At the heart of the remaining disagreements on this deal is fisheries.
“It is a small part of the EU’s economy and a tiny part of the UK’s economy but nonetheless it is still blocking progress.
“One of the things that the EU is looking for, is demanding, is the right to retaliate against Britain in another sector altogether if it doesn’t like, in the future, the way the UK is cutting back on EU fishing boats’ quotas in the North Sea.
“Britain really doesn’t like that idea, and we may find out in the next few days whether it will have to lump it.”
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He continued: “The UK Parliament here is now adjourned for recess, so it will have to be recalled to approve any deal, if there is one.
“Over in the EU Parliament, they are rattling their cage.
“They told EU negotiator Michel Barnier this morning that he has to have this deal done by Friday.
“He turned around and sucked his teeth and said maybe the weekend, maybe Sunday.
“Meanwhile, Michael Gove told MPs today that there is less than a 50 percent chance of a deal at all.”
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The Prime Minister said discussions are in a “serious situation” following the Thursday night phone call with Mrs von der Leyen
He said that a no deal scenario was “very likely” unless the EU position changed “substantially”.
Mrs von der Leyen herself admitted bridging “big differences”, particularly on fishing rights, would be “very challenging”.
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The transition period arrangement will end on 31 December as Mr Johnson acknowledged that “time was short”.
On fishing, Downing Street said Mr Johnson told Von der Leyen that the UK “could not accept a situation where it was the only sovereign country in the world not to be able to control access to its own waters for an extended period and to be faced with fisheries quotas which hugely disadvantaged its own industry”.
Earlier, Mrs von der Leyen told MEPs that the “next days” would be decisive and that fishing was the last hurdle to a comprehensive trade and security deal.
She said: “We do not question UK sovereignty on its own waters. But we ask for predictability and stability for our fishermen.”
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