A post-Brexit trade deal appeared to be a way off this weekend after the UK reportedly labelled the EU’s offer on fishing rights “derisory”.
EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier is back in London today for the latest round of talks. Face-to-face negotiations had to be postponed just over a week ago when a member of Barnier’s team caught coronavirus.
Before Barnier was forced into self-isolation, things were looking up for a Brexit deal. Yet the two sides appear to be far apart again on fishing with only weeks to go until the Brexit transition period ends.
Barnier reportedly told EU ambassadors at a meeting that he had offered the UK a 15 to 18 per cent reduction in the bloc’s fishing rights in British waters.
Yet British officials said the UK has dismissed the offer. The proposals, first reported by Irish broadcaster RTE, were called “derisory”.
Yesterday, Barnier said talks remained stalled over the “same divergences” of fisheries, state aid, and how to resolve future disputes.
UK says EU must respect post-Brexit ‘sovereignty’
The UK is keen to take a much bigger share of the EU’s current fishing rights in British waters, which are worth around €650m (£580m). Chief negotiator David Frost is pushing for around 80 per cent of the rights, according to reports.
Yesterday Frost tweeted: “For a deal to be possible it must fully respect UK sovereignty.
“That is not just a word – it has practical consequences. That includes: controlling our borders; deciding ourselves on a robust and principled subsidy control system; and controlling our fishing waters.”
City A.M. has contacted Number 10 and the European Commission for comment.
Labour mulls support for Brexit deal
Should a deal be agreed, the Labour Party is planning to back it in parliament, according to The Guardian. It comes as the party seeks to signal to voters in former Labour heartlands that it has heard them on Brexit.
Multiple sources told the paper that Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer is likely to tell his MPs that they must back the deal in a vote. Labour has been contacted for comment.
A Labour spokesperson said: “The Conservatives need to get a grip on the negotiations and deliver the trade deal they promised the British people at the last election.
“We have consistently said that no deal would be the worst possible scenario, especially with workers, families and businesses already under so much strain from the pandemic.
“Labour will look carefully at the detail of any deal if and when it is agreed.”