Wednesday 2 December 2020 5:53 pm

France pushes EU to go for no-deal Brexit if UK does not make late concessions

France is reportedly pushing the EU to go for a no-deal Brexit, before restarting trade talks next year, if the UK does not make significant concessions in the coming days.

EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier is in London today for in-person negotiations with UK Brexit negotiator Lord David Frost and his team.

Barnier also held a virtual meeting with ambassadors this morning before talks commenced for the day.

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France, and a group of other hardline EU nations, told Barnier that he should not make any more concessions in trade talks, according to the Times.

An EU diplomat told The Times: “As we are entering the endgame of the Brexit negotiations, some member states are becoming a bit jittery.

“So this was mostly an exercise to calm nerves in Paris and elsewhere, and to reassure member states that team Barnier will continue to defend core EU interests, including on fisheries.”

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Prime Minister Boris Johnson tonight said the UK remained committed to getting a free trade deal with the European Union, but the bloc knew what their “bottom line” was.

“We remain absolutely committed to trying to get a deal if we can,” he told a media conference. “I think our friends and know what the UK bottom line is.

“It’s about making sure that the UK is able to run its own laws, its own fisheries, and so on, and that’s fundamentally what it’s what it’s all about.” 

The largest barrier to a deal is future fisheries arrangements in UK waters.

Barnier is asking for EU countries to maintain access to 80 per cent of the value of fish in British waters that they had pre-Brexit.

The Times reports that the UK’s latest offer to Brussels is for them keep 40 per cent – a figure turned down by Barnier.

France, in particular, has pushed Brussels hard for a good deal on fisheries as it has many fishermen that operate in British waters.

French President Emmanuel Macron said yesterday: “France won’t accept a deal that doesn’t that doesn’t respect our interests in the future.”

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Time is running out for the UK to strike a trade deal, with the end of the Brexit transition period less than 30 days away.