Brexit: Dominic Raab addresses plans to defend UK fisheries
Trade deal negotiations between Britain and the EU remain deadlocked, with minimal movement from either side on their red lines. While yesterday the EU appeared optimistic a deal could be agreed, a source in London was far from convinced a trade pact was near.
Last week Prime Minister Boris Johnson told his Cabinet to prepare fully for a no deal exit from the transition agreement on December 31.
Under contingency plans for leaving under World Trade Organisation terms, Mr Wallace confirmed the Royal Navy would be at hand to deter French fishermen trying to access catch in UK waters illegally.
The Conservative minister said British fishermen would only need to ask for help for the military to be deployed.
He said last night: “When it comes to a Brexit deal whatever that is, it is no secret that we would use our military to help support in logistics or anything else as required by other departments – we only do things at the request of civilians.
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“If they ask for help we will give it.”
Fishing remains one of the three key sticking points in trade talks between the UK and EU.
British negotiator David Frost and his opposite number, Michel Barnier, have been talking tirelessly for weeks to try and find a solution to the impasse.
EU member states, led by French President Emmanuel Macron, are demanding continued access to UK catch, even after the transition period.
However, the Prime Minister has said Britain must become a sovereign state after the transition period ends and have control over its waters.
In the event of a no deal scenario, EU fisheries will lose their right to catch any fish in UK waters.
However, there are fears they will continue illegally fishing beyond the end of this year.
According to The Sun, yesterday while visiting British troops in Estonia Mr Wallace called on French fishermen to “respect” the UK’s sovereignty.
He said: “Whatever happens in the negotiations people should respect each other’s sovereign waters and follow the rule of law and behave peacefully and in line with it.
“We will be there to make sure we protect our fisherman because they have the right to be protected as they go about their lawful business.”
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The president of Normandy’s regional fisheries committee, Dimitri Rogoff, has lashed out at the UK for threat, saying deploying the Royal Navy “would mean that we are negotiating things that relate to war”.
As well as fishing, the two negotiating partners are wrangling over rules on state aid and how to ensure fair competition between UK and EU firms.
Last night a UK source warned little progress has been made in trade talks and a no deal remained the most likely outcome.
They said: “Talks remain difficult and we have not made significant progress in recent days, despite efforts by the UK side to bring energy and ideas to the process.
“Like any sovereign country we must have the right to take our own decisions and to choose regulations that suit the UK.
“We cannot sign up to dynamic alignment through the back door, the UK cannot be locked into the EU’s regulatory orbit.”
With just 16 days until the end of the transition period, Mr Johnson has put the UK on alert for a no deal exit.
He said on Sunday: “Let’s see what we can achieve.
“But in the meantime, get ready, with confidence, for January 1 – trade on WTO terms if we have to.”
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