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Barrie Deas, CEO of the National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisations, has told Michel Barnier there are “no signs” the UK is ready to cave and surrender access to UK waters despite negotiations looking set to go down to the wire. Brexit talks between the UK and the EU have stalled amid a continued row over trade, a so-called level-playing field and the future fisheries deal.
The UK’s Brexit negotiator David Frost has made it clear Britain will take back control of its waters after the transition period comes to an end at the end of the year.
The warning also echoed by Number 10 comes despite Michel Barnier insisting a comprehensive free trade deal would not be possible without an agreement on fishing.
Barrie Deas, who represents fishermen in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, has no doubt Boris Johnson will deliver on his promises and honour the result of the referendum and 2019 general election result.
Mr Deas told Express.co.uk: “The statements of the Prime Minister and Chief negotiator give no signs the UK is about to capitulate on fishing.
“It is seen as a matter of principle for this Government which was elected on a platform that included delivering on fisheries.”
Britain is set to finally leave the controversial Common Fisheries Policy and take back control of its territory.
The agreement, which has been criticised by British fishermen for years, is governed by the EU and sets out rules and quotas for fishing across the bloc.
Each member state including the UK, is only allowed to control an area of sea extending twelve miles out from their coastline, with the rest of the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) shared.
Mr Deas warned the UK leaving the policy would have a huge impact on European fisherman as British trawlers would no longer face competition.
He added: “If the EU fleets had no access to UK waters they would have to catch their quota allocations in EU waters, to the extent that that would be possible.
“UK vessels would face less competition on the fishing grounds.”
Ahead of the next round of negotiations, a key ally of French President Emmanuel Macron has pilled the pressure on both sides to reach a compromise.
European affairs minister Clement Beaune admitted a no deal outcome at the end of the year would be a problem and warned the French Government may have to bail out its fishing industry.
Earlier this week he told French radio: “We will not accept a deal at any price.
“Completing a trade deal before the end of the transition period on December 31 is in the interests of both sides.
“Let’s not kid ourselves, if there is no deal, it will be a difficult issue.
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“We’ll have to organise a response for sectors like fisheries. Support our fishermen financially. We’re not there yet.”
With no formal discussions taking place this week, sources close to Mr Barnier insisted the EU chief would be willing to cut a deal with the UK.
An EU insider said Mr Barnier told a gathering: “I remain confident that a balanced and sustainable deal remains possible, even if less ambitious.”
A Downing Street spokesman said: “The EU continues to insist on fisheries arrangements and access to UK fishing waters in a continuation of the status quo.
“This is incompatible with our future status as an independent coastal state.
“We are fully committed to agreeing fishing provisions in line with the Political Declaration, but we cannot agree arrangements that are manifestly unbalanced, against the interests of the UK fishing industry, and do not respect the UK’s right to control access to its waters from January next year.”
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