Brexit: Ben Habib urges UK to 'pull the plug' on negotiations
The French President was said to be in no mood to compromise because he feels that the European Union has already given too much ground in the battle over the totemic issue. Paris’ stance has left EU Brexit chief Michel Barnier with little room to manoeuvre as his efforts to broker a trade and security treaty with Britain enter the endgame. Mr Barnier was said to have made a final offer to guarantee Britain 25 per cent of the £590million worth of fish caught by European boats in our coastal waters this year.
The new arrangements would be phased in over seven years, with the ability to slap Britain with punitive tariffs if EU fishermen are locked out of UK waters in the future.
An EU diplomat said Emmanuel Macron would block any future concessions because he feels too much ground on fisheries has already been given.
The insider said: “That’s exactly why I don’t think Macron will budge substantially after already moving around 40 percent on fish already.”
With Britain rejecting the current EU offer, the diplomat added: “My guess is no deal with the potential of returning for talks after Christmas depending on public opinion in the UK.”
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British officials have confirmed the wrangling over the UK-EU trade and security deal will be extended after missing yesterday’s deadline, set by MEPs, to conclude an agreement.
They are said to be reviewing a new fisheries offer by Brussels but fear it raises too many questions.
A senior Government source last night said: “Teams have been negotiating throughout the day and expect to continue tomorrow.
“Talks remain difficult and significant differences remain. We continue to explore every route to a deal that is in line with the fundamental principles we brought into the negotiations.”
There are also fears the row over state subsidies for industry could also still scuppers chances of a deal because of the EU’s “unbalanced” position.
The bloc is understood to be insisting on an exemption for state aid handouts from the European Commission and other EU institutions.
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Under the plan, Britain would still be forced to adhere to the rules established in the treaty.
The delay has infuriated MEPs who insisted they wouldn’t vote to ratify the deal this year unless an agreement was reached yesterday by midnight.
German MEP Bernd Lange, trade committee chair, fumed: “Make preparations now for a no-deal period and agree emergency measures with the UK.”
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Fellow German, David McAllister, head of the EU Parliament’s Brexit committee, last night declared that time had run out for the assembly to ratify a Brexit deal before the end of the year when the UK’s transition out of EU rules is completed.
He said: “We have just learned that there will be no agreement today.
“Therefore, the European Parliament will not be in a position to grant consent to an agreement this year.”
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