Britain and Brussels 'inch closer to compromise on fishing rights'

Britain and Brussels ‘inch closer to a compromise on crunch issue of fishing’ as hopes rise of a post-Brexit trade deal and the Government prepares to fast track an accord through Parliament in ONE DAY

  • UK said to have offered a revised proposal on the crunch issue of fishing rights 
  • Plans would see the EU reduce the value of its catch in UK waters by one third
  • However, Brussels is holding out for a reduction of no more than 25 per cent
  • Came as ministers prepare plan to crash deal through Parliament in a single day 

Britain and Brussels appear to be inching closer to a breakthrough on the crunch issue of fishing rights amid rising optimism that the two sides could still strike a post-Brexit trade deal. 

The UK is said to have tabled a last-minute compromise which would see the EU cut its fishing catch in British waters by approximately one third over a transition period of five years. 

That would be considerably more generous than the UK’s original offer of a 60 per cent reduction over three years. 

However, the EU is reportedly still holding out for a reduction of no more than 25 per cent which it wants to be spread out over a seven year period having started negotiations by offering just an 18 per cent reduction over a decade. 

Boris Johnson last night insisted the UK would ‘prosper mightily’ even if Britain and the EU fail to strike a trade accord

Trade negotiations between Michel Barnier and UK counterpart Lord Frost remain ongoing ahead of the end of the transition period on December 31

An EU official told The Telegraph ‘it’s still a no from us’ while a UK government source disputed the suggestion, first reported by Bloomberg, that it is willing to accept a one third reduction, insisting ‘it’s not the offer and the EU are still miles off what we need’. 

Despite the two sides still being apart on the issue, the fact that there now appears to be some movement is likely to reignite hopes of a deal being agreed and ratified before the end of the ‘standstill’ transition period on December 31. 

Negotiations between Michel Barnier and UK counterpart Lord Frost remain ongoing with fishing viewed as the biggest stumbling block to a deal. 

However, the two sides are also still in disagreement over the so-called ‘level playing field’ on future rules. 

Any deal would have to be voted on by both the European and UK parliaments before it can come into force. 

The UK Parliament is now on its Christmas break but ministers have put MPs on notice that if there is a deal they will be called back to vote on it. 

Ministers are said to be drawing up a plan which would see the deal crashed through the House of Commons and the Lords in a single day, likely on December 30. 

That would then give the UK December 31 to pass any secondary legislation to tie up any loose ends.        

Should the two sides fail to strike a trade accord they will trade on basic World Trade Organisation terms from January 1 which will mean tariffs being imposed on goods. 

Downing Street yesterday rejected calls to seek an extension to the transition period amid growing calls to push back the talks deadline because of the border chaos caused by a new mutant strain of the coronavirus.  

The emergence of the new variant of the disease which spreads quicker than its predecessor prompted France to impose a travel ban on all UK traffic, plunging the Port of Dover into chaos. 

Number 10 was ‘incandescent’ when the ban was announced, according to The Times, with some ministers and officials suspecting the crackdown was an attempt to apply pressure to the UK to cave in during Brexit trade talks.  

One official told Politico: ‘If ever we needed a reason to show why we’re leaving the EU, the French trying to take food off our shelves for Christmas out of spite should do it.’ 

The Prime Minister’s Official Spokesman yesterday insisted the Government does not believe there was a Brexit element to the French decision. 

The UK is said to have offered a last minute compromise on fishing rights in a bid to break the negotiating deadlock 

He said: ‘No, we don’t think that is the reason for this. As I say, throughout the pandemic different travel restrictions have been imposed around the world.

‘You are aware of our travel quarantine policy that has been used for some time now and I pointed to the example fo Denmark where we suspended travel not too long ago.’   

Boris Johnson has repeatedly said he is willing to split from the bloc without a trade accord in place. 

He told a Downing Street press conference last night: ‘It remains the case that WTO terms would be more than satisfactory for the UK and we can certainly cope with any difficulties that are thrown in our way.

‘Not that we don’t want a deal, but WTO terms would be entirely satisfactory. Prosper mightily remains an extremely good description of life after January 1 either way.’

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