Macron: Europe Leaves Door Open to Brexit Deal… if UK Surrenders Territorial Waters

French President Emmanuel Macron attends a press conference with Latvia's Prime Minister (unseen) after their meeting on September 30, 2020 in Riga, Latvia, during Macron's official visit to Latvia and the Baltic region. (Photo by Gints Ivuskans / AFP) (Photo by GINTS IVUSKANS/AFP via Getty Images)

French President Emmanuel Macron has told the UK to surrender on continued fishing rights in British waters or prepare to leave without a deal. While Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced on Friday that the UK should prepare for a no-deal Brexit.

Amongst the several issues holding up progress on a deal, it is the dispute over fishing that has come to a head in negotiations between London and Brussels, with countries like France set to lose out by the UK regaining control over her territorial waters.

“Under no condition can our fishermen be sacrificed during Brexit,” Mr Macron said on Thursday at the Brussels summit, according to The Times. “If conditions aren’t met, it’s possible we don’t have an agreement. We are ready for that. If there are no good terms found at the end of the discussion, we are ready for a no-deal,” he added.

Mr Macron further laid claim to British waters as being ‘European’, saying: “We didn’t choose Brexit. It’s the British people’s choice. So protecting the access of our fishermen to British waters, finding a good compromise for our fishermen — and I’m talking about all European countries concerned including France — is an important point in this discussion, for us.”

Downing Street was said to have been dismayed by the remarks, with Britain’s chief negotiator Lord David Frost saying that he was “disappointed” by the summit’s conclusions. Frost was further “surprised” that the EU refused to begin intensive talks, despite that being agreed on with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on October 3rd.

“I’m also surprised by the suggestion that to get an agreement, all future moves must come from the UK. It’s an unusual approach to conducting a negotiation,” Mr Frost said.

Even German Chancellor Angela Merkel admitted earlier this week that for a deal to be struck, it must be mutually beneficial for both parties — suggesting movement should come from more than just the British. German sources have also told The Telegraph that a no-deal Brexit would mean the EU losing all of its access to British fishing waters, and not just some, suggesting that while France is holding the hard line, Germany is inclined to be more pragmatic.

October 15th, the day of the European summit, was the day by which the prime minister had said that he would set a deadline for agreeing on a deal, or walking away and preparing for a World Trade Organization (WTO) relationship with the bloc.

Brussels’ chief negotiator Michel Barnier dismissed the deadline as another that Johnson would miss, and offered to come to London on Monday for further negotiations.

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte also called Johnson’s bluff, saying: “Britain has already imposed so many deadlines that came and went.”

However, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced on Friday afternoon that since there are only ten weeks left until the end of the transition period, on January 1st, “I have to make a judgement on the likely outcome and to get us ready.

“Given that they have refused to negotiate seriously for much of the last few months, and given this summit appears explicitly to rule out a Canada-style deal, I concluded that we should get ready for January the first, with arrangements that are more like Australia’s, based on simple principles of global free trade.”

The prime minister said: “For whatever reason, it’s clear from the summit that after 45 years of membership, they are not willing… to offer this country the same terms as Canada.”

Continuing: “We will prosper mightily as a free-trading nation, controlling our own borders, fisheries, and setting our own laws.”

He added that “we can do it” because it was always clear that there would be changes no matter what deal was struck with the bloc, and called on travellers, businesses, and hauliers to “get ready”.


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