Brexit talks erupt: UK condemns Barnier over fishing grandstanding – ‘We won’t back down!’

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A source close to the talks told the EU negotiators were “playing around” by holding out on access to UK waters. It comes as the UK and EU negotiators look to be on the brink of missing yet another Brexit deal deadline. 


The Whitehall source said: “Brussels seems to be playing around here, we are determined to secure a deal.

“This is a difficult period, Barnier is already making things difficult with fisheries.”

“We will be an independent coastal state and will not back down.”

EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier arrived in London on Monday to resume trade talks with Downing Street counterpart Lord Frost.

He listed the three major sticking points – governance, the level playing field and fishing policies – as the three “keys to unlock a deal”.

No10 has hinted at a compromise on fisheries, which has been a major point of contention delaying progress on a deal.

But EU officials claim UK negotiators were trying to force a last-minute grand bargain between fisheries and the level playing field.

Mr Barnier had been telling Mr Frost the move branded a “last-minute dash” wasn’t acceptable, according to officials.

READ MORE: EU set to compromise at 11th hour ‘but ONLY if Boris stands firm’


One diplomat warned Lord Frost could not solve the small issues at the end of talks, stressing negotiations “have to be systematic”.

They stressed they were trying for a “grand bargain” with the remainder to follow.

Mr Barnier said the two teams were “redoubling our efforts” for an agreement but this website understands the trade negotiations could be extended.

Fisheries, a key part of the deal, contributed to 0.03 percent of UK economic output in 201 and combined with fish and shellfish processing, the sector makes up 0.1 percent of Britain’s GDP.

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The prospect of securing a longer-term deal with the EU on sharing the fish catch is important for getting a compromise.

But Mr Barnier has had the pressure piled on him by hardline EU countries including France who are pressuring Brussels officials to keep the Bloc’s strict approach in the talks.

The EU’s leading coastal nations are also demanding the same level of access for their fishing fleets to the UK’s waters.

The United Kingdom left the European Union in January but the sides are trying to clinch a deal that would govern nearly £1 trillion in annual trade before informal membership.



However, time is fast running out to have a deal in place by the end of the transition period on December 31st.

Businesses fear they would have the high trade tariffs they would face in the absence of an agreement.

The current round of talks is expected to conclude this weekend.

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