Brexit: Boris Johnson ‘battling for Britain’ says Barclay
Post-Brexit trade talks between the UK and EU are continuing in Brussels with negotiators hoping to agree a deal this week. But the sticky wicket of fisheries has seen the EU side fight tooth and nail to avoid a deal which “respects UK sovereignty”, according to UK sources.
UK officials claim Mr Johnson’s increasingly hardline position has left the EU “shaking with fear”.
Whitehall sources close to negotiations told Express.co.uk a trade deal was close – but talks remained “critical”.
They added: “It’s at a time now when Brussels must bow down to our demands.
“We want a deal which will respect UK sovereignty and this pressure seems to be showing.”
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Another said: “We have adopted a hardline position, especially on fisheries.
“There are some signs this approach has left the EU side shaking with fear, our demands are firmly on the table.”
It comes after the Royal Navy was put on standby to deploy four patrol boats if Brexit trade talks collapse without an agreement on fishing rights.
The position was backed by Defence Secretary Ben Wallace, who said during a visit to Tallinn, Estonia’s Capital: “We will be there to make sure we protect our fishermen because they have the right and deserve to be protected… going about their lawful business.”
READ MORE: French fishermen prepare for ‘warlike’ no deal Brexit as tensions boil
The Secretary of State for Defence said: “Whatever happens in negotiations, we must respect each other’s sovereign waters and indeed follow the rule of law and behave peacefully.
“When it comes to a Brexit deal – whatever that is – it is no secret that we would use our military to help support in logistics or anything else as required by other departments.”
The former member of the Scots guards stressed the UK would “always have assets along the shoreline of the United Kingdom to protect it.”
Progress was made yesterday on the level playing field with both sides close to a form of agreement.
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The EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier was understood to have told diplomats the UK had moved towards the bloc’s demands on the level playing field.
Mr Barnier told ambassadors the UK accepted a “rebalancing mechanism”, meaning it could face tariffs if it moves too far away from EU rules.
Mr Barnier said the “next few days” are important if a deal is to be in place for January 1st.
Speaking after a briefing with EU ambassadors, he said: “It is our responsibility to give the talks every chance of success.
“Never before has such a comprehensive agreement (trade, energy, fisheries, transport, police and judicial co-operation etc) been negotiated so transparently and in such little time.”
The European Parliament said it was in wait-and-see mode on EU-UK trade negotiations.
European Parliament head, David Sassoli, told a news conference: “We will have to see if we are close to a deal with the UK.
“In case of a deal or no deal, it’s clear that the parliament will have to take initiatives.
“Either to support this so-called agreement or to support the emergency measures in the absence of an agreement.”
For months the talks have been deadlocked on the issues of fishing rights, the “level playing field” to ensure neither side can unfairly compete with the other on environmental standards, workers’ rights or state subsidies, and the legal mechanisms to govern any deal.
The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said the UK “remained hopeful” of a deal being secured.
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