Friday, 4 Dec 2020

Boris Johnson fury as EU ‘overcomplicates’ Brexit – ‘we want Canada-style free trade deal’

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British officials are concerned the European Union is still not prepared to agree to the same terms it has already given Canada. Eurocrats are failing to treat the UK as an independent nation – despite time running out to reach a deal, No 10 has warned. A UK source close to talks said: “We have been totally clear that we want nothing more complicated than a Canada-style relationship based on free and fair trade. 

“It has always been our preference to reach a deal and we are working hard to get one, but only if we can reach one that’s compatible with our sovereignty and takes back control of our laws, our trade, and our waters. That has been our consistent position from the start and we will not be changing it.

“If we cannot reach an agreement that fully respects UK sovereignty, we will leave on Australia style terms and will prosper in doing so. The PM said this on October 16 and is confident we can do it because we always knew there would be change on January 1 whatever type of relationship we had.”

The wrangling over a Brexit trade deal is still at a bitter impasse over future fishing rights and common standards.

Boris Johnson wants a deal but is sure “we will prosper” if EU negotiators refuse to accept Britain as an independent nation.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “Significant differences do remain and key elements in the draft texts are not yet agreed.

“But, although there has been some progress in recent days, there is much work to be done and time is very short.

“So if we are to make further progress in the coming days, we need to see more realism from the EU on what it means for the UK to be an independent state.”

Mr Johnson’s lead negotiator has signalled a deal could be reached by the end of the week if the bloc budges on state aid rules and access to Britain’s coastal waters.

Amid hopes of an agreement by Friday, Michel Barnier has arranged to brief European capitals on the talks.

Confirming the plan, an EU official said: “Of course, these things can move a million times between now and then.”

If by the weekend the two sides still haven’t reached an agreement, but feel they are close, the negotiations are expected to be extended.

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With talks heating up, British fishing leaders have penned a letter to the Prime Minister urging him to remain tough in the battle over the country’s coastal waters.

The National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisations and Scottish Fishermen’s Federation wrote the industry had never been in a “stronger position than we are now”.

They warned any capitulation would only pile further misery on the industry after more than 40 years under the EU’s controversial Common Fisheries Policy.

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Elspeth Macdonald and Barrie Deas wrote: “No other country in the world gives away its fish in the way the UK has for the last 40 years.

“This is the time to right these wrongs. This is the UK’s once-in-a-lifetime opportunity – the Sea of Opportunity – to climb the ladder of successful seafood nations and for the UK to reap the greatest benefit from our sovereign natural resources – not to continue to give them away for the benefit of others.”

Trade talks continue in Brussels with Lord Frost and Mr Barnier set to hold meetings until the end of the week. 

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