Take it or leave it: Fishing standoff reaches endgame as Boris sends Barnier final warning

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Downing Street is concerned the trade and security talks will collapse as there has been zero movement from Brussels on its hardline fishing demands. British officials are set to warn their European counterparts there won’t be a deal unless the bloc accepts the UK’s status as an independent coastal state after the end of the year. Lord Frost is warning the EU’s fleet faces being blocked from British waters if there is a no-deal Brexit.

A Government spokesman said: “Unfortunately we haven’t achieved as much as we’d hoped so far during this intensive process. We will only be able to make progress if the EU accepts the reality that the UK will have the right to control access to its waters at the end of this year.

“We are asking for a simple, separate fisheries framework agreement which reflects our rights under international law and which provides for annual negotiations over access and sharing opportunities based on the scientific principle of zonal attachment.

“This is squarely in line with the existing precedent of the EU’s current fisheries agreement with Norway. The EU also does not seem to have realised the scale of change in fishing rights they face if there is no agreement.”

Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, has told close allies he must compromise in the battle to keep control over Britain’s fishing grounds if he is to secure a Brexit deal.

But hardline member states, led by France, are pressing the Brussels diplomat to maintain the bloc’s intransigent approach in the talks.

The EU’s leading coastal nations are demanding the same level of access for their fishing fleets to the UK’s waters.

The row – one of three major sticking points preventing a significant breakthrough – threatens to derail the whole trade and security deal being brokered between the UK and EU.

Mr Barnier has been adamant that there can be no future economic partnership without an agreement on post-Brexit fishing rights.

The Frenchman has drawn up a desperate dossier of doomsday forecasts for British businesses in the hope it will persuade No10 to offer concessions.

He will use the promise of lucrative access to the EU’s market for key UK manufacturing sectors to secure greater access to the UK’s coastal waters for the bloc’s fishermen.

Ahead of the talks, he briefed a private meeting that import taxes on British-made lorries alone would cost the UK economy more than £900 million a year.

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One insider revealed Mr Barnier has drawn up a dossier of the profits made by British companies if the UK is offered a zero-tariff, zero-quota trade deal by the bloc.

“We have worked out what that would generate in terms of profits for British companies,” he told allies.

The Brussels bureaucrat explained to colleagues he would threaten to block access to the EU for British hauliers and airlines if European fishermen are not granted “fair access to British waters”, one source familiar with the discussions said.

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According to sources, Mr Barnier told the meeting: “I’m pitting one against the other. European access to British waters and British access to the single market.”

Mr Barnier will continue trade talks with UK counterpart Lord Frost in London this week ahead of the pending mid-November deadline for a deal.

The Frenchman has told colleagues there must be a significant breakthrough by the end of the week if any agreement is to be concluded before the end of the transition period in December.

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