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Fishing has proved to be one of the elements central to the huge breakdown in talks between chief negotiators David Frost and Michel Barnier, with both sides remaining a significant distance apart over their demands for their respective industries. Britain wants fishing quotas to be renegotiated in an annual basis, but the EU has argued this would make it impossible for the industry to make investment decisions. The French President has maintained that access for his country’s fishermen into British waters should not be compromised as part of any agreement between London and Brussels.
The EU figurehead has continued to warn France’s fishermen will not be “sacrificed” as part of the now bitter and long-running Brexit process.
Mr Macron warned during last week’s European Council summit in the Belgian capital “our fishermen will not be the victims of Brexit”, and added: “We didn’t make that choice. The British people did”. He also warned France is ready for a no deal outcome.
But Conservative MP for Shrewsbury and Atcham Shrewsbury Daniel Kawczynski has reacted furiously, savaging the comments made by the French President and urged the UK to leave the EU without a deal if France are not willing to drop their fishing demands.
He told Express.co.uk: “Macron is playing true to form. What he is saying again is highly discourteous and disrespectful.
“He still hasn’t got to grips with the fact that we are now an independent sovereign nation and British waters are not going to be continued to be fished by French fishermen, plundering fishing stocks.
“For example, off the coast of Cornwall, 80 percent of fishing goes to the EU and there is just a tiny fraction left for British fishermen.
“I have been talking to Conservative MPs today in the House of Commons and there is an absolute determination that the Government does not make any further concessions on fishing.
“If France are not prepared to do a deal on this, then we need to walk away without a deal and revert to the Australian WTO model.”
Mr Kawczynski told the French President that the UK is “not scared of a no deal”, warning the pressure is now on France and the EU as he claimed they have much more to lose than the UK from such an outcome.
He said: “The trade deficit for the EU is now approaching £90billion a year, and they will have to pay three times as many tariffs to our exchequer as we will have to pay them.
“We have seen a huge amount of militancy from French farmers in the past who have blockaded roads, protesting against British lamb.
“Macron has to please his fishing and farming unions, but we’re not scared of a no deal.
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“It would be much more difficult for them because in a no deal scenario, they will lose everything.
“At the moment, French fishing vessels will have licences that are negotiated on an annual basis and the Government is now talking about a three-year transition period to implement some of these changes. which I think is over-generous.
“If Macron overplays his cards, he will end up with egg on his face and will have to have a difficult conversation with his fishermen as to why there is no further access to British waters at all.”
During the European council summit in Brussels, Mr Macron attempted to pile the pressure onto UK negotiators.
He said: “I want to be very clear about Brexit. We know what subjects remain to be discussed and what subjects haven’t found a solution yet: fisheries.
“Our fishermen will not be the victims of Brexit. We didn’t make that choice. The British people did.
“So the access to British waters is a key issue in these negotiations.”
The French President added: “We don’t want an agreement at any price. If the conditions are not met, it’s possible to leave without an agreement.
“We are prepared for a no deal. France is ready.”
But just 24 hours later, Mr Johnson warned EU talks on a post-Brexit free trade agreement are over unless Brussels shows a “fundamental change of approach”.
The Prime Minister said: “From the outset, we were totally clear that we wanted nothing more complicated than a Canada-style relationship, based on friendship and free trade.
“To judge by the latest EU summit in Brussels, that won’t work for our EU partners.
“They want the continued ability to control our legislative freedom, our fisheries, in a way that is obviously unacceptable to an independent country.
“Given that they have refused to negotiate seriously for much of the last few months, and given that this summit appears explicitly to rule out a Canada-style deal, I have concluded that we should get ready for January 1 with arrangements that are more like Australia’s based on simple principles of global free trade.”
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